Sacajawea Audubon

Bridger Raptor Count In 22nd Season

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk (photo by J. Harris)

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: or

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:

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.



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