Migration Research Sites

1999-2003 Count Data
2002-2003 Banding Data

Click on a numbered site or name to get detailed site information, including directions,
or scroll down for brief project summaries and a list of field season dates by site.

HWI sites partial color.jpg (48063 bytes)

Migration Sites & Dates:
Grand Canyon, Arizona: August 27 to November 5
Florida Keys, Florida
: September 15 to November 14
Bridger Mts., Montana
: August 27 to October 31
Rogers Pass, Montana: March 1 to March 31
- did not occur in 2003, currently being evaluated
Goshute Mts., Nevada:
August 15 to November 5
Manzano Mts., New Mexico:
August 27 to November 5
Sandia Mts., New Mexico:
February 24 to May 5
Bonney Butte, Oregon:
August 27 to October 31
Corpus Christi, Texas
: August 15 to November 15
Smith Point, Texas: August 15 to November 15
Jordanelle Reservoir, Utah: February 25 to May 14 - discontinued in 2003
Wellsville Mts., Utah
: August 22 to October 31
Chelan Ridge, Washington
: August 23 to October 27
Commissary Ridge, Wyoming
: August 27 to October 31
Veracruz, Mexico: August 20 to November 20

Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Project, Washington   

In partnership with the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests, HWI began standardized counts of the raptor migration along the northeastern flanks of the Cascade Range in northcentral Washington in 1997. This site is located just northeast of beautiful Lake Chelan.   Counts here typically range from 2,200-2,900 migrants per season. HWI also began banding raptors at this site in 2001, following two years of exploratory banding by the Falcon Research Group of Washington.

Bonney Butte Raptor Migration Project, Oregon

HWI discovered the Bonney Butte flyway along the eastern slopes of the central Cascades in 1993. Scenic Mt. Hood overlooks this site, where both counts and banding occur. Annual counts, begun in 1994, average 1,500-2,500 raptors, and annual banding totals currently range from 250-350 birds. This site is noteworthy for the relatively large numbers of Merlins seen each season (on average about 60).

Bridger Mountains and Rogers Pass Raptor Migration Projects, Montana

HWI began observations of Golden and Bald Eagles in the spring of 1988 near Rogers Pass, just east of Helena, Montana. Annual counts typically yield 1,400-2,000 migrating eagles, plus 200-300 other raptors. This count occurs during the month of March only, a design focused on monitoring the primary adult Golden Eagle passage period. This project will not occur in 2003, largely because veteran observers Fred and Cathy Tilly, who have heretofore done all the counting at this site, have decided to seek warmth somewhere else this spring. In the coming months, HWI will compile and analyze the trend and passage timing data gathered at this site thus far and compare these findings to those generated by other Golden Eagle monitoring projects in the region. This will help us determine the comparative value of the data and whether continuing the project is warranted given limited resources and other priorities.

HWI began fall counts in the Bridger Mountains just northeast of Bozeman in 1991, with an observation post situated above the popular Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Counts here average about 2,600 migrant raptors, with Golden Eagles typically accounting for about 60% of the flight.

Goshute Mountains Raptor Migration Project, Nevada  

Initiated in 1980, the Goshute Project is HWI's largest and most recognized site in the U.S. Each year from August to November, our observers record up to 25,000 raptors of 18 species flying south along the crest of the Goshute range within the Intermountain Flyway. This is one of the largest known concentrations of migratory raptors in the western United States. To date, more than 50,000 raptors also have been banded at this site, which provides critically important information on raptor movements and conservation needs. Moreover, since 1999, satelite tracking has yielded additional valuable information about the migratory habits and routes followed by Goshute migrants. HWI also educates hundreds of visitors at the Goshute project site every year, with education specialists always on site to ensure quality experiences for all visitors.

Wellsville Mountains and Jordanelle Raptor Migration Projects, Utah

HWI's oldest monitoring site, initiated in 1977, is located in the Wellsville Mountains of northern Utah. Each fall, up to 5,000 raptors are documented migrating south along the range from late August to late October. The projected did not occur in 2002 due to last-minute recruiting difficulties, but will resume normally in 2003.

In 1997, HWI also began spring migration counts from the ridgeline adjacent to Jordanelle Reservoir near Heber City in the central Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Counts here average about 4,000 migrants per season. Limited banding occurred at the site in 1998 and 1999, but the logistics proved untenable for development of a robust, long-term program. After considerable deliberation, HWI's Science Committee (which includes selected staff, board members, and outside experts) decided to discontinue this project in 2003. The primary reasons for this decision include: 1) difficult flight to monitor due to poorly focused, foothill flight lines; 2) high variability in counts likely reflects inconsistent flight dynamics; 3) educational objectives for the site have not been realized due to the lack of a successful banding program and difficult, weather-related, logistics for the first half of the season; and 4) higher priority interest in focusing limited resources on enhancing fall migration-monitoring efforts and finding better spring-fall matched project pairs with full count and banding capabilities (e.g., like the Sandias and Manzano Mountains pair in New Mexico).

Commissary Ridge Raptor Migration Project, Wyoming

HWI's newest monitoring site, with the first full-season count conducted during fall 2002, is located near South Fork Mountain on Commissary Ridge in western Wyoming. Exploratory surveys in 2000 and 2001 suggested that the volume of raptor migration along Commissary Ridge may rival that seen at most other HWI western sites. Hence, for the first time in 2002, HWI conducted a full-season count at the site (minus 12 days in early September when a wildfire precluded access to the site), and the effort yielded the second highest overall passage rate among HWI's western sites (excluding Texas). Thus, assuming we can secure sufficient funding, we intend to continue the count project in the future and hope to also initiate an exploratory banding program at the site in 2003 and add on-site education programs as appropriate. The project site is highly accessible and close to Salt Lake City, and therefore should prove to be a valuable new addition to the HWI montoring network for both scientific and educational purposes.

Sandia Mountains and Manzano Mountains Raptor Migration Projects, New Mexico

HWI began monitoring spring (Sandia Mountains) and fall (Manzano Mountains) raptor migrations along the Rocky Mountain Flyway in central New Mexico in 1985. Up to 15,000 migrating raptors are recorded each year along this flyway, and more than 10,000 birds have been banded at the two sites since 1990. These projects, easily accessible from metropolitan Albuquerque and surrounding areas, are visited each year by hundreds of school children and the public.

Grand Canyon Raptor Migration Project, Arizona

HWI initiated standardized counts along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at Lipan Point in fall 1991, and began a second full-season count at Yaki Point in 1997.  Combined counts at the two sites typically exceed 10,000 migrants of up to 18 species, plus California Condors can often be seen in the local area.  The count season extends from late August through early November.  Because Grand Canyon National Park attracts millions of visitors each year, these counts represent very important educational opportunities for HWI.

Smith Point and Corpus Christi Raptor Migration Projects, Texas     

In fall 1997, HWI began two exciting new raptor migration counts along the Gulf Coast of Texas.  At both sites, local volunteers had been conducting limited counts for several years under the guidance of the Hawk Migration Association of North America.  HWI spearheaded establishment of the first full-season, standardized counts at both sites.  Since 1997, counts at Smith Point, located on Galveston Bay near Houston, have ranged from a low of 25,000 to a high of over 100,000 in 2001, with up to 20 species represented each season.  This project occurs in partnership with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory of Texas.  The count at Hazel Bazemore County Park along the Nueces River near Corpus Christi exceeded 992,000 migrants in 1998 (98% Broad-winged Hawks), and consistently attracts the largest and often most diverse migratory concentration of raptors in the United States and Canada.  Both Texas counts extend from 15 August to 15 November.  For additional information about these projects, including counts, check out the Audubon Outdoor Club of Texas web site at www.ccbirding.com/aoc/.

Florida Keys Raptor Migration Project

The Florida Keys may be the most exciting location in the country to witness the migration of falcons. Large numbers of Merlins, American Kestrels, and Peregrine Falcons pass through the keys each October en route to their southern wintering grounds. Fourteen different species of raptors have been observed in the keys during migration, including Swallow-tailed Kites, Swainson’s Hawks, Bald Eagles, and the Short-tailed Hawk (a species seen only in Florida for North America). The count site is located in the middle keys near the town of Marathon. Check out a small gallery of birds (including Merlins and Peregrines) tagged at the Keys in Fall 1999. Also of interest is the Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival which typically occurs during October each year.

Veracruz River of Raptors Project, Mexico    

In collaboration with Pronatura Veracruz and the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, HWI helps monitor the largest raptor migration in the world along the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico. During the peak migration period each fall, hundreds of thousands of raptors can be seen each day as they travel south along the coastal plain of Veracruz to Central and South America where they overwinter. Annual counts range in the neighborhood of 4-5 million raptors!  HWI leads Eco-tours to Mexico to witness this amazing spectacle each fall. Plans are underway to build an observation tower and discovery center at the site.

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