by Kat Petersen and Dan Casey

Kat Petersen – Photo by BJ Worth

Monday September 16th was our 20th survey of the 2019 hawk migration season at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch northeast of Bigfork, and the second consecutive day with more than 100 birds counted, as the migration is picking up! Daily totals otherwise have been a bit lower than previous years due to foul weather, although our season totals of 740 birds over 20 surveys are both above average numbers for the early part of the season.

We have also reached several long-term benchmarks this season. For example, a Sharp-shinned Hawk (naturally) on September 2nd was the 28,000th raptor recorded at the Jewel since our surveys began in 2007! We have also now counted more than 100 Prairie Falcons, 600 Bald Eagles, and 13,000 Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Hopefully by the time you read this article the weather has taken a turn for the better, with sunny skies and strong Southwestern winds. If so, perhaps we will get to enjoy Accipiters peaking a 1,000 in just a single week, as observed in previous years!

Follow along as counters live tally throughout the day at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch site on Dunkadoo!

Here are the totals from the survey days between August 25th and September 16th, with 740 birds of sixteen species recorded (only Rough-legged Hawk and Gyrfalcon have not yet showed up this season. This hawk watch depends heavily on the efforts of volunteers, most of them members of Flathead Audubon, as well as on direct financial support from both Flathead Audubon, Flathead National Forest, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. This year Kat Petersen is working as the technician hired to conduct 30 surveys. Contact Dan Casey at 406.270.5941 ( if you would like to participate in any of the surveys this season, which will continue until November 7th, weather allowing.

Turkey Vulture  3Red-tailed Hawk  92
Osprey  2Ferruginous Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  27Unknown Buteo  8
Northern Harrier  6Golden Eagle  17
Sharp-shinned Hawk  322American Kestrel  35
Cooper’s Hawk  168Merlin  3
Northern Goshawk  12Peregrine Falcon  2
Unknown Accipiter  20Prairie Falcon  10
Broad-winged Hawk  6Unknown Falcon  1
Swainson’s Hawk  1Unknown Raptor  2