Annual Hawk Watch Event Returns to GNP
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: September 11, 2022

Glacier National Park will host its annual Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program on September 30 from 12 pm to 4 pm near Lake McDonald Lodge. The event has been postponed for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Park biologists will teach volunteers how to identify and count migrating raptors during the event. Biologists, park staff, and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the integral role of raptors in our ecosystems, the risks they face, and why Glacier has started the Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program. Educators from Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center will also be on site with live raptors between 2 pm and 4 pm to provide close-up looks at some of the raptor species that migrate past Mount Brown.

The event will begin at the Golden Eagle interpretive sign near Jammer Joe’s parking lot; snacks and hot beverages will be provided. Participants should come prepared with their own binoculars. Attendees need not stay for the duration of the program and may also choose to hike to an observation point just below Mount Brown Lookout. People interested in hiking up Mount Brown should call the Glacier Citizen Science Office for hike times and additional details.

Each year in the fall, 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-1990s 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 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

Glacier National Park Conservancy donors provide support for this program. Contact GLAC_citizen_science@nps.gov or call (406) 888-7986 for more information.