Glacier National Park Invites Public to Hawk Watch Training
Participants will learn about raptors and how to support the park’s fall migration study
West Glacier, MT – Glacier National Park kicks off the second annual Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program with a volunteer training event on Saturday, October 5, from noon to 4 pm.
Anyone interested in helping the park document migrating raptors is invited to the come-and-go event. The meeting point will be across from Lake McDonald Lodge at the golden eagle interpretive sign near Jammer Joe’s parking lot. Snacks and hot beverages will be provided. Participants should bring their own binoculars. Attendees need not stay for the whole time.
The Hawk Watch Program is a long-term study that teams up volunteers and biologists to document fall raptor migration. At the training and information event on October 5, park biologists will teach volunteers how to identify and count migrating raptors as part of the park’s golden eagle bird count on their annual migration south.
Staff and volunteers will also answer questions about the integral role of raptors in our ecosystems, the risks they face, and why Glacier started the Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program.
After attending training, volunteers have several options for taking part in the Hawk Watch:
- Mount Brown observation point: On scheduled days in September and October, observers who are strong hikers can trek approximately 4.5 miles up to an observation point just below Mount Brown Lookout. Once there, participants will collect data between 10 am and 4 pm. Anyone interested in documenting raptors at this observation point should call (406) 888-7896 or email the Glacier Citizen Science Office for additional details.
- Observation station near Lake McDonald Lodge: Volunteers can reach this site by road. Participants may come any day during October to gather data between noon to 4 pm. This location will focus on counts of migrating golden eagles.
Each fall, golden eagles migrate from northern breeding grounds to warmer climates. One of the most important North American migration routes passes through Glacier National Park along the Continental Divide. Large numbers of other raptors also use this migration corridor during the fall and spring.
In the mid-1990s, biologists documented nearly 2,000 golden eagles migrating past Mount Brown annually. Trend data from outside GNP indicate significant declines in golden eagle numbers, attributed to environmental contaminants, habitat loss, prey declines, and climate change. Golden eagles and other raptors are top predators and migration counts are a cost-effective and efficient approach to detect changes in their numbers and aid in their conservation. Glacier National Park established its Hawk Watch site in 2017.
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 phase, and behavior of raptors, as well as weather and environmental conditions.
Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates and Glacier National Park Conservancy donors provide support for this program.
For more information on the raptor migration study and October training, email the Glacier National Park Citizen Science program, or call (406) 888-7986.