One of the most exhilarating experiences that one can have is watching a Golden Eagle soar on open wings along a ridge line at roughly 40 miles per hour. It appears absolutely effortless. Strength, beauty, freedom… are all adjectives that come to mind watching these outstretched wings. GEMS!
During the fall migration seasons, 2015-2017, LCAS partnered with Montana Audubon, US Forest Service and MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks to survey migrating raptors from near the summit of Mt. Baldy in the Big Belt Mountains. The 8100 foot vantage point for counting produced results that were nothing short of unbelievable. During the 2017 season the observers counted over 2100 migrating Golden Eagles and a total of nearly 2900 migrating raptors!
While the site was remarkable for migrating raptors it was also remarkable for extreme conditions. The access road in and out often became impassable and the hired observers were at times placed in risky situations during the six week survey. Given these circumstances and the liability risks, the LCAS Board of Directors made the decision to withdraw from the project at the conclusion of the 2017 season. Since that time Montana Audubon has attempted to continue the count but has also been hampered by extreme conditions and access issues.
Adam Richardson who is affiliated with Montana Golden Eagle Research has now taken over the project and it is now called Duck Creek Pass Hawk Watch. Adam conducted a count during the fall of 2020 and information about the ongoing survey is available at Adam’s blog: Duck Creek Pass Hawk Count.