Montana Audubon and HawkWatch International (HWI) are pleased to announce the 22nd season of raptor migration research at the Bridger Mountains, located 15 miles NE of Bozeman.
Birders, hikers, and nature lovers are welcome at the observation station, where expert seasonal observers systematically count all birds of prey on their annual southern migration. The long-term data collected at the Bridger Mountains site helps researchers learn more about raptor migration patterns as well as population trends. The project is also designed to monitor environmental changes, using these top-of-the-food chain predators as barometers of ecological health.
Montana Audubon, in partnership with HawkWatch International (HWI), has coordinated this scientific project for the past 4 years. HWI initiated standardized scientific counts atop the Bridgers in 1992. Eagles, hawks, and falcons use the energy-saving updrafts created by strong winds along the crest of the Bridgers to migrate south, often within close proximity of the viewing platform. These migrating raptors originate primarily from breeding locales in northern Montana, western Canada, and Alaska, and their destinations include a wide range of latitudes (varying by species and populations), from the American Southwest & Mexico all the way to Central and South America. The Bridger migration site consistently records the largest concentration of autumnal migrant golden eagles known in the lower 48 states! (Recent Golden Eagle count totals have varied from 1,000 to 1,500 individuals/season, or up to 250 on a peak migration day!)
The 2012 Bridger count is being conducted from September 1st through November 5th. Raptor viewing in the Bridgers is often best between mid-September and mid-October. From the parking area above the Bridger Bowl Ski Area lodges it is a 1.5-2 hour hike to the observation point (with an elevation gain of 2200 feet). For further information, including directions for visiting the site as well as previous annual project reports, please visit: http://www.mtaudubon.org/birds/raptor.html or http://www.hawkwatch.org.
Thus far funding for the 2012 count has been secured from the USDA Forest Service (Gallatin National Forest), NaturEner USA, and individual Montana Audubon donors.
The mission of Montana Audubon is to promote appreciation, knowledge, and conservation of native birds, other wildlife, and natural ecosystems to safeguard biological diversity for current and future generations. Incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1982, Montana Audubon uses public policy, education, science, and habitat protection to fulfill its conservation mission. For more information please see: www.mtaudubon.org.
HawkWatch International, a nonprofit organization operating eight raptor migration research sites in western North America, the Texas Gulf Coast, and Veracruz, Mexico, collaborates with many organizations to maintain scientific, long-term raptor monitoring programs across western North America. HawkWatch International’s mission is to conserve the environment through education, long-term monitoring, and scientific research, using raptors as indicators of ecosystem health.
Look for daily updates on what is being seen on the Bridger Ridge on this website.
Join us October 8th at 7 p.m. for our monthly program featuring wildlife biologist Braden Burkholder.
Braden is a Wildlife Technician at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Bozeman and a recent graduate of MSU with a Master’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management. As part of his work and Master’s program, Braden had the opportunity to study moose ecology in the Upper Big Hole Valley from 2007 to 2010. He’ll be sharing a general overview of moose natural history, ecology, and management in southwest Montana, as well as a small portion of his thesis research examining moose habitat selection and use patterns in the Upper Big Hole Valley.
Braden grew up in Helena, MT, enjoying the wildlands of the Montana Rockies throughout his childhood. His family would regularly spend afternoons and weekends hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing in the mountains. Those early experiences inspired him to pursue a career in wildlife research and management. Braden completed a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Whitman College and then volunteered on numerous research and conservation projects, working with species including the Channel Island fox, spotted skunk, California condor, pine marten, mule deer, Canada lynx, and snowshoe hare.
The Sacajawea Audubon Society meets the second Monday of the month (September through May) at 7:00 p.m., at the Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th), Bozeman. We invite the public to attend our meetings and participate in our field trips, listed here on the chapter's website.
It's time to start a new season of interesting and informational programs, beginning with a talk on the American Pika presented by April Craighead on September 10th at 7 p.m.
Have you ever wondered who is one of the hardest working mammals out there? Well it's the American pika who caches a whole winters worth of plant material or "hay" into a small territory nestled in talus or boulder slopes throughout western Montana. These power houses of energy (they weigh about 6 oz.) make hundreds of trips a day to collect grasses and forbs during August and September that will sustain them through the snow and cold of winter. Other than being incredibly cute, pikas are also important to researchers as early warning indicators to climate change. Pikas are very sensitive to warm temperatures and as our climate changes, pikas are feeling the heat.
April has been working at the Craighead Institute since 2000 as a wildlife biologist. She has worked on a variety of projects including bear studies, birds, road ecology and more recently, how climate change effects alpine species, specifically the American pika. April enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, traveling, kayaking, and most importantly being a mom to her daughter, Willow. She received her Bachelors degree from the University of California, San Diego and a Master's degree from Montana State University.
The Sacajawea Audubon Society meets the second Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m., at the Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th), Bozeman. Audubon invites the public to attend its meetings and participate in its field trips, listed here on the chapter's website.