Volunteers invited to Hawk Watch in Glacier Park
Lisa Bate, left, and Karen Chickering search for birds at the Mount Brown Hawk Watch site.
Glacier National Park will host its annual Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program on Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. near Lake McDonald Lodge.
The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the Golden Eagle interpretive sign near Jammer Joe’s Restaurant parking lot in the Lake McDonald Lodge area; snacks and hot beverages will be provided. Park biologists and volunteers will teach participants how to identify and count migrating raptors and answer questions about the integral role of raptors in our ecosystems, the risks they face, and why Glacier has started the Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program.
Educators from Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center will also be on site with live raptors from 12 to 2 p.m. to provide close-up looks at some of the raptor species that migrate past Mount Brown.
For the last hour of the event, counting migrating raptors will resume from 2 to 3 m. Participants should bring their own binoculars and be prepared to count Golden Eagles on their annual migration south past Mount Brown. Attendees need not stay for the entire program.
Throughout September and October, volunteers can also choose to hike on their own to an observation point and count migrating raptors just below Mount Brown fire lookout. This is a hike of about 4.5 miles/7.2 km one-way (about 9 miles/14.5 km roundtrip) with an elevation gain of over 4,000 ft/1,220 m. Volunteers interested in hiking to the observation point and participating in the count should email the Glacier Citizen Science Office, GLAC_citizen_science@nps.gov, for additional details.
Each year in the fall, golden eagles migrate from northern breeding grounds to warmer climates. One of the most important North American golden eagle migration routes passes directly through Glacier National Park along the Continental Divide. Large numbers of other raptors also use this migration corridor during the fall and spring months.
In the mid-1990s biologists documented nearly 2,000 golden eagles migrating past Mount Brown annually. Recent data from outside Glacier National Park indicate significant declines in golden eagle numbers. Due to this concern, the park initiated a Citizen Science Raptor Migration Project in 2011 to investigate possible locations for a Hawk Watch site. Hawk Watch sites are part of an international effort to track long-term raptor population trends using systematic migrating raptor counts. Observers also record data on sex, age, color morph and behavior of raptors, as well as weather and environmental conditions. To see a map of Hawk Watch sites around the world go to www.hawkcount.org.
Funding for the Mount Brown Hawk Watch program is provided by the National Park Service, Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates, and Glacier National Park Conservancy. The Northwest Montana Lookout Association assisted with Mount Brown lookout refurbishments.
For more information about the Mount Brown Hawk Watch program, contact park staff via email at GLAC_citizen_science@nps.gov or call (406) 888-7986.