West Glacier, MT – In celebration of the Year of the Bird, Glacier National Park is launching a new Hawk Watch Program where park biologists will teach volunteers how to count migrating raptors. A training will be held at the Apgar Education Center in Apgar Village on Thursday, August 23, 2018 from 9 am to 12 pm to learn more about this opportunity.
Fire and road closure status dependent, the field study will be held this fall. Volunteers can choose specific dates in September and October to hike approximately 4.5 miles up the Mount Brown trail (roughly 4,000 feet in elevation gain) to collect data from 10 am to 4 pm. The second site near Lake McDonald Lodge is accessible by road and will focus on counts of migrating golden eagles during October from 12 to 4 pm daily. If fire conditions do not allow access to these areas, alternate sites may be identified.
Each year, golden eagles migrate from northern breeding grounds to warmer climates. One of the most important North American golden eagle migration routes passes directly through Glacier National Park along the Continental Divide. Large numbers of other raptors also use this migration corridor during the fall and spring months.
In the mid-1990’s biologists documented nearly 2,000 golden eagles migrating past Mount Brown annually. Recent data from outside Glacier National Park indicate significant declines in golden eagle numbers. Due to this concern, the park initiated a Citizen Science Raptor Migration Project in 2011 to investigate possible locations for a Hawk Watch site. 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 morph and behavior of raptors, as well as weather and environmental conditions. To see a map of Hawk Watch sites around the world go to https://www.hawkcount.org/sitesel.php
The Year of the Bird marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the important roles birds play in our ecosystems. The National Park Service has joined in with the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Bird Life International, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and 200 other organizations to celebrate this momentous anniversary. The MBTA has protected billions of birds since its inception. The U.S. and Canada first signed it into law in 1918. In 1936, international governments expanded the MBTA to include Mexico, followed by Japan and the former USSR (1970s).
Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates, the Glacier National Park Conservancy donors provide support for this program. Contact GLAC_citizen_science@nps.gov or call (406) 888-7986 for more information or to sign up for the training session.
Visit the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center events page for more information about other learning opportunities offered this summer.