HawkWatch opens raptor observation site

Butte near Mount Hood is prime viewing location this month

COLUMBIA RIVER Gorge golden eagle

Submitted photo
COLUMBIA RIVER Gorge golden eagle

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.


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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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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