Sacajawea Audubon

Nov. 10th Program – “Eyes on the Skies – Results of the 24th Bridger Raptor Count”

Bret & Mikaela scanning (S. Hoffman photo)

Bret & Mikaela scanning (S. Hoffman photo)

Presented by: 

Hawkwatch International Founder, Steve Hoffman, and field researchers Bret Davis & Mikaela Howie

Monday November 10th, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.

Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th) in Bozeman

The Bridger Ridge provides viewing of the largest Golden Eagle migration known in the lower 48 states. Recent Golden Eagle count totals have varied from 1,000 to 1,400 eagles per season, with up to 200 individuals tallied on peak migration days (usually during the first two weeks of October). Data obtained over the last 24 years has provided scientists with valuable information about trends in raptor populations. Bret and Mikaela will show lots of amazing photos of raptors while summarizing the latest project findings. They will also share many memorable experiences while scanning for migrating raptors atop of Bridger Bowl for more than two months!

Thanks to the generous support of Sacajawea Audubon Society and others, September 1st marked the start of the 24th consecutive season of raptor migration research along the crest of the Bridger Mountains. Montana Audubon, in partnership with HawkWatch International (HWI), has coordinated this scientific project for the past 6 seasons. HWI initiated these annual counts in 1991.

These majestic birds use the energy-saving updrafts created by strong winds along the crest of the Bridgers to migrate south. The long-term data collected at the Bridger site helps scientists learn about regional and continental raptor population trends. Most importantly, the Bridger project is designed to monitor widespread environmental changes, using these apex predators as valuable barometers of ecological health.

Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of Montana Audubon, emphasizes: “The Bridger Project is the most important migration site in the western United States for monitoring the health and trends of Golden Eagle populations.  The Bridger data are especially important now because there is scientific evidence for long-term declines in Golden Eagle numbers across much of western North America. As a result, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other wildlife conservation agencies are intensifying research efforts to learn more about Golden Eagles and what might be causing this downward trend.”

Immature Golden Eagle (K. Baughan photo)

Immature Golden Eagle (K. Baughan photo)

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