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It's a bird! Hawkwatch resumes its raptor review posted on 08/01/2021

Hawkwatch International, a nonprofit organization that focuses on monitoring raptors, has tracked the migration of these birds since 1986, including at Bonney Butte since 1994. Last year, like so many other aspects of life, the group was unable to collect data on what types of raptors were migrating.

Starting at the end of August, Hawkwatch International will restart its efforts at Bonney Butte, lasting through the end of October and offering a chance for Mountain residents and visitors to learn more about raptors, from golden eagles to merlins and more (annual counts typically range from 2,500-4,500 migrant raptors of up to 18 species).

Kirsten Elliott, Hawkwatch International Development and Communications Director, noted that the lost year of data from 2020 is unfortunate, but losing more beyond that would be a bigger issue.

“When you have that long term data set, it’s not a massive problem," Elliott said. “It was so critical for us to open back up this year, at least for the science, if nothing else.”

Bonney Butte will see a crew of five raptor biologists who search the skies for migrating raptors between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day. They’ll hopefully be able to note the species of raptor and then tally daily counts that are available in real time.

Staff will also take part in educational programming and interpretation, helping visitors understand more about migration ecology, raptor identification and the group’s research efforts.

Elliott added that there are opportunities for a closer look as they also lure raptors in and trap them in an effort to tag the bird’s leg and learn more about its health. Birds are then released, which can make a strong impression for anyone there to witness it.

“That’s really magical,” Elliott said.

In the past, the group has also held a festival in Government Camp, but Elliot noted that will not take place this year.

“We hope to bring back festivals, it’s a great way to connect,” she said. “We love Government Camp.”

Bonney Butte Hawkwatch will run from Friday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 31 and is located on the southeastern flanks of Mount Hood, within the Mt. Hood National Forest, and approximately six miles southeast of Government Camp. For directions and a list of suggested items to bring, please visit https://hawkwatch.org/bonney.

All activities are weather dependent and the best dates to visit fall between Tuesday, Sept. 7 and Tuesday, Oct. 12. If you are a large group, please contact Hawkwatch to schedule your visit in advance.

By Garth Guibord/MT





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