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Typical western Montana spring weather greeted us for the second week of raptor surveys. Unstable conditions brought everything from hot, sunny days to snowy whiteouts. During fair weather, raptors utilized south winds to surge through in fast glides. Red-tailed hawks still dominate the count. Rough-legged hawk numbers picked up as they leave their wintering grounds. Ospreys made their first appearance, and Turkey vultures are coming through in larger numbers.

Totals for 3/24-3/30, 2012

Red-tailed hawk—140

Rough-legged hawk—47

Turkey vulture—32

Bald eagle—19

Golden eagle—31


Northern harrier—14

Sharp-shinned hawk—7

Cooper’s hawk—5

Northern goshawk—1

American kestrel—6

Unidentified accipiter—9

Unidentified buteo—23

Unidentified raptor—3

Total= 340

A resident bald eagle flies overhead, escorting migrant eagles away from its territory.

resident bald eagle

About the Author

Eric Rasmussen

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.