Last year I had the opportunity to visit Bonney Butte during the annual raptor migration, where I was met by HawkWatch International's Joseph Dane and a cohort of scientists and birders. For three months they come daily to track, count, and occasionally catch, band, and release the various birds of prey that migrate through the area. It's all a part of the research and advocacy work done by HawkWatch International, a non-profit organization headquartered out of Salt Lake City.
HawkWatch International (HWI) is a science-based conservation and education non-profit that works to protect birds of prey (raptors) and the habitats they need to thrive. HWI conducts long-term monitoring of fall migration at eight research sites throughout the western U.S. and Gulf Coast region, one of which is Bonney Butte. The data collected at these sites allow them to track population trends and work with state and federal wildlife managers to implement conservation plans to protect sensitive species.
Today we're thrilled to add HWI to OutdoorProject.org's list of sponsor organizations. Under this program we'll help promote opportunities to learn about the work they do, and share resources to help the general public get involved in their programs. To start, we've created updated maps to both the Bonney Butte and Chelan Ridge migration sites, areas that are covered in our current geographic reach at Outdoor Project. These sites can be visited now and will be accessible until the snow shuts them down in late fall.
As Joseph tells it, "Education is an important part of our mission and is critical to our conservation work. HWI takes our 'raptor ambassadors' (injured, non-releasable birds) to schools and community centers, providing education programs to thousands of individuals every year. We love teaching about raptors and their importance in our environment, and we encourage visitation to our migration sites during the fall season where we help visitors with raptor identification. Come hawkwatch with us!" My visit to Bonney Butte made it clear that this focus on education is heartily practiced. If you're an avid birder, or if you're just eager to get a chance to release a banded raptor, you'll get a healthy dose of fun and education from a migration site visit.
Migration sites are currently running in full swing. Bonney Butte is on the south side of Mount Hood, and Chelan Ridge is on the eastern side of Lake Chelan. Beyond the monitoring done at these locations, the sites themselves offer incredible views to the surrounding area. These are just two of the eight migration sites found in key migration routes in the U.S. West. Want to make a visit? Find out more at www.hawkwatch.org.