Raptor surveys are underway. We are posted on Baldy Mountain seven days a week. Eagles, hawks, and falcons are the focus, but we are also counting other migrating birds.
The first week was cold. Snow was falling, and the winds were strong. Golden Eagles, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks were the top birds. They are able to fly in strong winds. The ridges that border the Bitterroot Valley were shrouded in clouds, bringing many of these early-season migrants over the MPG Ranch.
Our high count this week was 56, on March 24th. We recorded an early Turkey Vulture on the 18th. We saw our first Cooper’s Hawk and Northern Harrier at the end of the week. As the weather warms, we anticipate more of these species.
Mountain Bluebirds, American Robins, and Dark-eyed Juncos were common migrants this week. We also counted over 200 Northern Pintails.
This week the majority of migrant Red-tailed Hawks were adults.
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.