Reporting from Glacier Park with the photographic evidence of this amazing presentation made possible by Glacier National Park Conservancy, Montana Wild Wings, and Lisa Bate, Glacier Parks Wildlife Specialist, and others. Such a great day.
Year of the Bird
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, written in 1918, protects birds from market killing and to prohibit using feathers for fancy hats and accessories. It has since protected billions of birds starting with a treaty between the US and Canada, eventually growing to Mexico, Japan, and Russia. It’s one of the strongest laws that we have that protect birds from people.
Raptors are the top predators in the avian world and their health and population numbers can show how well an ecosystem is doing overall. They migrate through Glacier in September and October. Different species at different times. The last two weeks in September is peak migration for falcons and hawks. Mid-October is peak migration for Golden Eagles.
Heads up!! Glacier Park is in the process of establishing a Hawk Watch International site up near Mt. Brown made possible through funding by Glacier National Park Conservancy, the Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates, and it’s donors.
Volunteer Opportunities: If you have interest in signing up for the Citizen Watch Volunteer Program and can do the arduous hike up to Mt. Brown and spend 6 hours with the program, you will likely be treated to seeing many of these birds on their southern latitude migration.
Luther – American Kestrel. He’s the smallest in the falcon family.
Duke – Peregrine Falcon. Look the strong legs on this guy! These falcons migrate all the way down to the tip of South America and have one of the longest migration patterns.
Homer – Great Grey Owl – The Great Grey Owl is tallest owl species in the world from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. Like most owls they do not build a nest and usually take over the nest of raven or raptor and sometimes use the top of a broken tree. They are year-round residents and do not migrate however they will change elevation to follow their food. Despite her size, she is mostly feathers and weighs in at 2.5 pounds.
Frank – Pygmy Owl. Frank is a full-grown male Pygmy Owl and the smallest owl in Montana. Frank weighs a whopping 2 ounces. Pygmy owls are fierce predators and are known to hang around backyard bird feeders and pick away at the little birds.
Duncan – Red-tailed Hawk. (Buteo) Red-tailed hawks are medium to fairly large, wide-ranging raptors with a robust body and broad wings. They catch the wind and float through the air. Most migrate and some stay all year and prey on mice, rodents, and sometimes snakes. You will see them sitting on telephone poles, fence posts.
Ella – Coopers Hawk, (Accipiter) – With a slender short, broad body, rounded wings and a long tail helps them maneuver in flight. These active fast flyers will actually get on the ground and chase their prey. She is a very active bird.
Want more? The All about birds website has bird calls recordings if you would like to dive deeper.
You can watch the Glacier Park Conservancy live feed in its entirety below.