The second week of raptor surveys provided twice the raptors of last week. The beginning of the week was cold and rainy, but temperatures warmed enough to avoid snow, and winds turned favorable. By the end of the week, blue skies and temperatures in the mid-sixties accompanied south winds. Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, and Turkey Vultures began flying over. Accipiter numbers increased, with Cooper’s Hawks as the most common. Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawk numbers remained high.
On March 26th we spotted a season high 74 birds. The Buteo count was substantial at 50. Species diversity increases daily as other raptors start migrating through the Bitterroot.
Our top non-raptor migrants include:
We also observed Canvasback and California Gull, new species for MPG. One Sandhill Crane was seen the 27th.
A male American Kestrel briefly hovers over the observation site before flying north (above).
Eric received a B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana in 2000, and soon after volunteered for his first bird research job in the arctic tundra of Alaska. Afterwards he worked for nine years, mostly in western Montana, on bird-related research projects for the U.S. Forest Service.
In 2010, Eric was hired by MPG Ranch as the Bird Research Technician and now conducts breeding bird surveys, raptor migration surveys, and winter bird surveys, as well as participating in other ranch projects such as owl and raptor banding and community field trips. In his free time, Eric enjoys searching for wild mushrooms, playing ultimate Frisbee, and backcountry skiing.