Welcome Megan Barlowe!

Hey there, hawk migration fans! The 2022 season is underway in Cut Bank. Co-founder Tom Magarian has been counting since August 15, and the migrants are so far trickling through. We’re hoping to see lots of Swainson’s hawks pushing in the next week and into September, but what we’re really excited about today is our 2022 counter, Megan Barlowe!

Megan is a recent graduate from James Madison University located in Harrisonburg, VA where she studied Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Environmental Biology. Her background has been mostly involved with amphibians and reptiles, and she is excited to broaden her experiences in the avian world. Megan completed her thesis work on the red-sided garter snake, investigating seasonal variations in genes involved with hormone synthesis. This summer Megan worked at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory located in Gothic, CO where she assisted with multiple projects involved with assessing acclimation abilities in thermal physiology of the Arizona tiger salamander populations nearby. Megan is very excited to start working as the counter at the Cut Bank Hawkwatch and can’t wait to learn about raptor migration and view some beautiful raptors!

Megan will arrive in Cut Bank to learn the ropes with Tom in early September and will keep the count through November 15 – through the last hot, still days of late summer to the cold winds of autumn that give the migrants pushing through Cut Bank a wild ride south for the winter.

None of this is possible without our logistical partners and friends at Hawkwatch International, our sponsors and friends at the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon Society, and of course the stewards of allll the migration data and friends at the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

Keep up with us on our facebook page, on our hawkcount page, and on ALL the fall migration tallies at hawkcount.org.

Let’s go hawkwatching!

All Seasons Summary Table

Updated comparison table for all years at the CBHW. We’re sitting on site-to-site comparisons until the folks up the Front in Canada post their results (Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation). Not sure if they even counted at Vicki Ridge? But I eagerly await their juicy PDFs.

Turkey Vulture201100
Golden Eagle1021975823812
Bald Eagle96193649647
Northern Harrier155104774509
Sharp-shinned Hawk130752753113
Cooper’s Hawk351102561
Northern Goshawk7010112
Broad-winged Hawk37041170
Swainson’s Hawk1075714263810
Red-tailed Hawk3303420520014544
Rough-legged Hawk77638156243271236
Ferruginous Hawk13455822482
American Kestrel91272991
Peregrine Falcon101130
Prairie Falcon912523208
Unknown Eagle001212
Unknown Raptor3162951
Unknown Accipiter2081400
Unknown Falcon003110
Unknown Buteo9521202611
Effort (hours)71558.5431.523309934.75


Wonders never cease. This essential thing, there is always something new to learn, is one of the things that keeps me walking out the door and right back out observing the natural world over and over again. And while it is our friend Arthur who is standing in that space at the CBHW, in this time, drinking in what there is to learn, I can at least make tables at a distance and wonder as well – and wonders never cease!

What started as a thing that seemed interesting because of rough-legged hawks is simply revealing what is interesting about that thing for what it is, which is, through September 30, 2021, this:

Turkey Vulture201100
Golden Eagle31975823812
Bald Eagle29193649647
Northern Harrier92104774509
Sharp-shinned Hawk84752753113
Cooper’s Hawk221102561
Northern Goshawk2010112
Broad-winged Hawk37041170
Swainson’s Hawk1073714263810
Red-tailed Hawk1083420520014544
Rough-legged Hawk038156243271236
Ferruginous Hawk6255822482
American Kestrel84272991
Peregrine Falcon101130
Prairie Falcon42523208
Unknown Eagle001212
Unknown Raptor1162951
Unknown Accipiter1081400
Unknown Falcon003110
Unknown Buteo2521202611
Effort (hours)358.7558.5431.523309934.75

A glaring highlight here is obviously the Swainson’s hawk flight (clear evidence that starting August 15 to better capture this flight was well worth it), but there are little tidbits of interesting across the board.

We’re delighted to have a seasoned counter well-versed in the raptor ecology of the immediate area who we were super lucky to drop on the coulee for the season, and this certainly is a contributing factor to how the 2021 column is stacking up, but don’t let the overall larger numbers distract from the play here with (1) starting earlier and (2) annual variability and (3) things we just don’t yet know. The project is young for a hawkwatch, and the practice of open country hawk migration observation is also young.

I’m going to just let these numbers simmer out here and let it play…

Enjoy October and may your wonders never cease!

– Kate

Fall 2019 Season Summary

The Cut Bank Hawkwatch was studied for its second full season in 2019, thanks to generous support from HMANA, the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon Society, the Glacier County Conservation District, and numerous individuals. Logistical support was provided by HawkWatch International. Forrest English counted the flight with key assistance from Andrew Burmester, Dan Stoken, Kate Atkins, and visits from Beth Hill and the gang from Great Falls. We were delighted that Dan Casey (Jewel Basin Hawk Watch) counted a full day for us in September, pulling in a diverse buteo and eagle flight of 43 birds. Thanks also to Sasha Auer for the amazing Rough-legged Hawk shirt designs and sales support.

From September 1 through November 15, counters occupied the site on 69 days (12 more days than 2018), for a total of 431.51 (2018: 330 hours) – an increased effort over the 2018 season. The average outing was 6.3 hours. This effort yielded a season total of 859 migrants of 17 identifiable species. Thanks to our many donors, counting commenced on September 1, two weeks earlier than the 2018 season. Accordingly, all-time high counts of Swainson’s Hawks (142) and Ferruginous Hawks (58) were recorded. The last Swainson’s Hawk of the season was observed on 9 October, while Ferruginous Hawks continued through 1 November. During our focus month of October, 201.1 hours were observed overall, at 7.2 hours per day on average. Rough-legged Hawk numbers came in a lower than in previous years, at 156 birds (for 2016: 236, 2017: 271, 2018: 243). The standout day of the season was 15 October, with the single-day high count of Rough-legged Hawks at 39 birds, and an overall tally of 95 birds. Also of note this year were 10 total Northern Goshawks.

The final count was 1 Turkey Vulture, 4 Osprey, 36 Bald Eagles, 47 Northern Harriers, 52 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 10 Cooper’s Hawks, 10 Northern Goshawk, 4 Broad-winged Hawks, 205 Red-tailed Hawks, 156 Rough-legged Hawks, 142 Swainson’s Hawks, 58 Ferruginous Hawks, 75 Golden Eagles, 7 American Kestrels, 7 Merlin, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 5 Prairie Falcons, 0 Gyrfalcon, 8 Unknown Accipiters, 21 Unknown Buteos, 1 Unknown Eagle, 3 Unknown Falcons, and 6 Unknown Raptors.

To sift data yourself, visit hawkwatch.org or dunkadoo.

2021 Season

We’re currently gearing up for the 2021 season after a pause in 2020. We’ll update the blog with a long, long overdue summary of the 2019 count soon.

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