Jewel Basin Hawk Watch

Looking for incoming raptors at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch site - Photo Credit: Jake Bramante
Looking for incoming raptors at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch site – Photo Credit: Jake Bramante

Jewel Basin Hawk Watch is a scientific data collection project whose purpose is to monitor autumn raptor migration on an annual basis at a site above Jewel Basin in the Northern Rocky Mountains, as well as bird use of Flathead National Forest riparian habitats during peak migration times of September through October.

Each day of the season, one or more trained observers work a minimum of 6 hours (weather permitting) at the monitoring site on Mount Aeneas, identifying and recording species, sex, age class, morph, color, and size of each migrating bird, as well as hourly weather conditions, such as cloud types, sky conditions, thermal lift, wind velocity and direction, temperature, barometric pressure and visibility.

The data is reported daily and the observer makes a report online about the results of the day’s observation. Daily tallies are also posted at the base area. At the end of the season, complete results will be included in a final report. The data is also submitted to Hawk Watch, International, an organization whose mission includes raptor conservation, trend monitoring, data collection from Hawk Watch sites around the world and dissemination of information regarding the status of raptor species world-wide.

The Jewel Basin Hawk Watch is a cooperative project of Flathead Audubon Society and the U.S. Forest Service, Region 1. Grant funds from the USFS cover some project expenses and allow for a daily stipend for the primary observers for approximately half of the monitoring days. Flathead Audubon Society provides volunteer observers, a research data coordinator, compilation of final results and report, and on-the-ground coordination of the project.

The Hawk Watch site and all of its results are open to the public. Site visitors are welcome and are encouraged to contribute to the observation process. Interested persons are encouraged to join the project. Drop us a line on the contact page to become an official observer and access the team’s schedule/project site. Follow daily results at: (and check out counts at our sister site up at Mt Brown Lookout in Glacier National Park). 

Northern Goshawk Juv. In Flight sm
Northern Goshawk juvenile – Photo Credit: BJ Worth

When visiting the site, please observe the following guidelines:

  1. Dress for weather conditions – rain/snow gear, layers, hiking boots, etc.
  2. Bears frequent the area. Carrying bear spray is recommended.
  3. Pets not recommended. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  4. Wear muted colors, including hats. Birds see and are distracted by bright colors.
  5. When watching the monitoring process, sit or stand back and watch quietly.
  6. Taking photos is allowed; avoid using flash as it may frighten the birds.
  7. Judge carefully whether to take younger children. The hike to the site is uphill and takes approximately 2 hours.
  8. Jewel Basin is a legal hunting area. Expect to see hunters and do not interfere with their activities.

Primary Observer Calendar