I conducted the fourth winter raptor survey on January 2, 2011. Blue skies prevailed as did unseasonably warm temperatures. Numbers from all four surveys are similar. Once again a ten mile stretch south of the ranch and east of Stevensville continues to be a 'hot spot'. More than half the total of red-tailed and rough-legged hawks counted, on each of the four surveys, have been observed along this section. Both species of eagles have mostly been spotted on or near the ranch, as well as the prairie falcon and northern harrier. Another pattern that has remained consistent is the lack of raptors along a 10-15 mile section near the end of the survey route. This area is a rural subdivision 3-6 miles just south of the ranch. Open spaces are smaller, human disturbance greater, and raptors are scarce. For each of the four surveys only 1 or 2 raptors have been observed. Below is a summary of the four surveys.
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.