by Dan Casey

Sharp-shinned Hawk attacks the owl – photo by Kent Meireis

With another 21 surveys conducted since the last update in the Pileated Post, the 16th season of raptor surveys in the Jewel Basin has continued to result in above-average numbers for many species. We had tallied 2,586 raptors of 17 species as of October 15th. These included record numbers of Broad-winged Hawks, American Kestrels, Ospreys and Swainson’s Hawks. Another eight species had already exceeded our previous season-long average totals, with up to three more weeks of surveys still to come. In contrast, numbers of Red-tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles have been well below our previous 15-year seasonal average counts. 

Turkey Vulture (5); Osprey (19); Bald Eagle (33); Northern Harrier (71); Sharp-shinned Hawk (1,434); Cooper’s Hawk (463); American Goshawk (28); Accipiter sp (24); Broad-winged Hawk (60); Swainson’s Hawk (7); Red-tailed Hawk (144); Ferruginous Hawk (2); Rough-legged Hawk (2); Buteo sp (9); Golden Eagle (121); American Kestrel (103); Merlin(28); Peregrine Falcon(13); Prairie Falcon (11); Falcon sp (5); Eagle sp (1); Raptor sp (3). Total: 2,586

As we hit mid-October, the site is still accessible and more good weather is predicted. WE are hoping that a burst of Golden Eagle migration is still to come. There will always be an experienced primary observer on site, but extra sets of eyes are needed on the busiest days! The Jewel Basin site sits on the ridge crest about a half-mile north of Mt. Aeneas. The scenery is as spectacular as the birding!  

If you would like more information, contact Dan Casey at (406) 270-5941. There is a Google group dedicated to the effort which you can join by submitting an email to; you can also follow daily surveys in real time by visiting our Dunkadoo Page. Or visit the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch page for more information and survey calendar.