Each fall thousands of hawks, eagles and falcons fly along a high ridge above Lake Chelan on their way to winter territories. Join Wenatchee River Institute for a field trip to the Chelan Ridge Hawkwatch International (HWI) observation point Oct. 3 to witness this amazing spectacle. Chelan Ridge HWI is located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Learn about raptor biology and hone your identification skills by assisting researchers as they count passing hawks.
During the excursion, local biologists will explain the why of these migrations, as well as the how it all relates to habitat and land management. While visiting the field station, participants will watch biologists work the trapping blind, providing a rare opportunity to witness a live bird capture, banding and release. Participants will also gather data to glean information about the health of North America’s raptor populations.
After exploratory surveys in 1997 at Chelan Ridge HawkWatch, HWI began annual counts at the Chelan Ridge site in 1998 in partnership with the USFS Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. These counts helped monitor the raptors and learn more about their migration through the East Cascades of Washington, within the Pacific Coast Flyway. HWI has been banding raptors at Chelan Ridge since 2001, while also using the site to conduct satellite-tracking research.
Each season, counts typically range between 2,000-3,000 migrating birds of up to 17 species. The most commonly seen species are the sharp-shinned hawk, red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s hawk, northern harrier, golden eagle, and American kestrel.
Cost for the field trip is $45 for WRI members and $60 for nonmembers. WRI Otter Van transportation is included. Participants will leave from the Wenatchee River Institute campus in Leavenworth at 8 a.m. or from the Penny Road Park & Ride in Wenatchee at 8:45 a.m. Pack a lunch, snacks and water, and be prepared to hike for 30 minutes at approximately 6,000 feet elevation.
For information about Hawkwatch International, go to hawkwatch.org/chelan.
Tricia Cook is the administration and communications manager for the Wenatchee River Institute in Leavenworth.