By Gael Bissell.

This fall’s Jewel Basin Hawk Watch kicks off the last week in August and will continue through October (as long as weather permits). We need volunteer bird watchers to sign up and help monitor raptor migration almost every day.

Golden Eagle - Photo Credit: BJ Worth
Golden Eagle – Photo Credit: BJ Worth

This is the 9th year of the raptor count on the Swan Ridge (about 1,400 feet above the Jewel Basin parking lot). It was initiated to help raptor researchers understand and monitor western forest raptor migration numbers and reproduction rates over time. Flathead Audubon took over the coordination responsibility for this citizen science project from the American Bird Conservancy last year. Dan Casey initiated the effort in 2008 and is still the principal investigator, with FAS providing technical and administrative support. The Flathead National Forest provides permission as well as financial support.

We need as many volunteers as possible to help our more experienced citizen scientists sight, track, and count, every raptor that migrates over or along the ridge during the surveys. You may also be one of those rare persons who wants to become one of our Primary Observers.

To get started, attend our first Hawk Watch Orientation on September 10th at Lone Pine State Park, 1-4 pm. Dan Casey, Barbara Summer, and BJ Worth will show raptor photos and videos, and provide other information to help you get a jump on the season. The FAS Birds of Prey Festival takes place at Lone Pine the morning of the 10th, prior to this orientation. For more information on the Festival click here.

As a follow up to the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch Orientation, we are holding an all-day field trip to the Jewel Basin site (limited to 8 observers) on Sept. 17. Click here for field trip details. Other field training opportunities will continue through the season.

In addition to the above opportunities, you can get more information about this fall raptor monitoring project by joining the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch Yahoo Group online. Once you have received permission to join the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch Group, you can browse through past photos and reports, access the daily calendar (under Events), and sign up on that calendar for the days you are able to assist. Our Primary Observers thus far are Dan Casey, Kathy Ross, Barbara Summer, BJ Worth, Josh Coville, Diane Lundgren, Lisa Bate, and Steve Gniadek. Be sure at least one primary observer is also signed up for each day you choose.

For more information on Hawk Watch contact Kathy Ross (through September), Gael Bissell (in October), or Joe Batts (anytime).