Cut Bank isn’t the only place to watch hawks in Montana. You can of course watch hawks all day long in Montana if you know where to look, but here’s a rundown of both established and experimental hawk migration study sites across the state.
Image courtesy of HMANA – see map here:
Bridger Mountains Hawkwatch
Montana’s original massive autumn Golden Eagle-heavy hawk watch site not too far from Bozeman. HawkWatch International has really useful information about visiting this site at the link provided above.
GEMS (Golden Eagle Migration Survey)
For another huge Golden Eagle flight right in your face with a stunning view – and some tough, tough hawk watchers – visit this site in the Big Belt Mountains in the autumn season. This site is coordinated by our friends at Montana Audubon.
Jewel Basin Hawk Watch
Operated by the Flathead Audubon Society, Jewel Basin Hawk Watch is Montana’s premiere Accipiter monitoring site, perched on the crest of the Swan Range in the Jewel Basin Hiking Area on Flathead National Forest. Surveys run from the last week of August until access is limited by snow, usually in late October. Reached by a hike of a little more than 2 miles and gaining 1400’ in elevation, the views from this site alone are well worth the trip. Mountain goats often accompany the counters, and bear spray is recommended!
A rare spring and fall migration study site, operated within the large, robust umbrella of the MPG Ranch. With more than 15,000 acres of conservation property in Western Montana, MPG Ranch stewards large, undeveloped landscapes for wildlife habitat and the enjoyment of future generations. They conduct research and collaborate with other local organizations and researchers that design and implement outreach and public education events.
Camp Baker Hawk Watch / Eagle Watch
A pilot autumn count site along the extremely scenic Smith River, in the southwest corner of the Little Belts.
These folks are in Alberta, Canada, but really, it’s not that far…
Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation
Home to the closest migration sites the north of Cut Bank, since 1992, Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation (RMERF) volunteers have performed annual raptor migration counts at the same site location in the Kananaskis Country, Alberta, spring and fall; significantly providing data to the understanding of and amazement in watching Golden Eagles. Of particular interest to us, RMERF is studying the flight at Vicki Ridge, near Beaver Mines, a little off the Front – with tantalizing similarities to the flight at Cut Bank.