HawkWatch opens raptor observation site

Butte near Mount Hood is prime viewing location this month

HawkWatch International announces the beginning of the 20th season of raptor migration research at Bonney Butte, located in Mt. Hood National Forest.

Birders, hikers and nature lovers are welcome at the observation station, where seasonal volunteers count raptors during their annual southern migration. Free education programs on raptor and migration ecology are provided to visitors.

Pending staff availability, captured hawks are often brought from the banding site to the observation station so that visitors can see them up close before the birds are released back to the wild.

The data collected at the Bonney Butte migration site helps scientists understand raptor migration and population trends, as well as unearth changes in the environment. Raptors, commonly referred to as birds of prey, are good indicators of environmental health because they feed at the top of the food chain.

BIRDS OF THE GORGE, SEPT. 11

Wildlife Biologist Tim Pitz will present a slideshow of “Birds of the Gorge” at the Hood River Library Wednesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. Pitz will answer questions regarding bird watching in the Gorge. Pitz has conducted avian research in five states and Costa Rica and has led bird watching tours in the Northwest for Friends of the Gorge and Wasco County Parks.

In 1993, the scientific director of HWI used a topographic map of Mt. Hood National Forest to locate an observation post along the primary migration route used by Pacific Northwest birds of prey. With a steady, westward wind, eagles, hawks and falcons migrating south tend to fly along a 35-mile-long north-south ridge within sight of Bonney Butte.

The butte, located at the southern end of the ridge, is an ideal spot for counting and banding those birds.

Pending weather changes, the project will run through Oct. 31. The peak of raptor migration is around the end of September, beginning of October.

A 4-wheel-drive or high-clearance vehicle, is recommended for the rough road to the parking area and trail head.

From the parking area, it’s about a half- mile hike to the observation ridge. For more information, downloadable brochures or driving directions, visit hawkwatch.org.

Funding for the counting and banding project comes from a variety of sources including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Community Foundation (Oregon Parks Foundation), Kinsman Foundation and private HWI membership support.

About HawkWatch International

HawkWatch International, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating eight raptor migration research sites around Western North America and the Gulf Coast Region, is helping to develop and maintain scientifically robust, long-term monitoring programs for North American raptors.

HawkWatch International’s mission is to conserve the environment through education, long-term monitoring, and scientific research on raptors as indicators of ecosystem health.

After investing more than 30 years of effort, HWI is now widely recognized as a pioneer and leader in the arena of raptor migration monitoring in western North America, and is currently coordinating one of the world’s most extensive networks of long-term, standardized, full-season raptor migration counts. More information can be found at hawkwatch.org.

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