Birds of Prey | 2-Day Guided Educational Hike

This course focuses on the Bald Eagle habitat in Glacier Park

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

1,000 Feet

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Difficulty

Easy/Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$310

Hike Overview

Raptors have been immortalized as symbolic heralds in literature, served as important indicators in uncovering the effects of pesticides on wildlife, and they patrol our skies connecting us to an ancient, evolutionary past. During our two days together, we will discuss the life histories, habits, physical characteristics, distribution of Glacier’s full suite of birds of prey. We will focus, in particular, on the Bald Eagle population in Glacier, and why it has risen and fallen dramatically in recent years.

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Birds of Prey | 2-Day Guided Educational Hike

Hike Overview Continued

Instructor: Dave Shea

Raptors have been immortalized as symbolic heralds in literature, served as important indicators of the effects of pesticides on wildlife, and connect us to our ancient, evolutionary past. During our two days together, we will discuss the life histories, habits, and physical characteristics of Glacier National Park’s birds of prey. We will focus, in particular, on the Bald Eagle population and why it has risen and fallen dramatically in recent years.

Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp

Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather)

Day 1: We will meet at 7 a.m. and spend the morning in camp looking at slides and specimens and getting an overview of raptors in general, and Glacier National Park’s birds of prey in particular. Another morning activity will include a visit by a local raptor rehabilitator, who will bring several live birds. In the afternoon, we will travel to the foot of Lake McDonald and make our way down lower McDonald Creek (approximately 2.5 miles) to the site of the former annual bald eagle congregation. Once there, we will look at feeding and roosting sites. We’ll also look at fish, flora, beaver habitat, and other wildlife signs, and have plenty of time for birding and photography. As an alternative, we may drive up the North Fork Rd to Polebridge and look for nesting Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls.

Day 2: We will meet at 7 a.m. at Glacier Institute Field Camp and travel to the eastside of the Glacier Park and around the outer roads (approximately 200 miles round trip). We’ll spend the day looking at nesting and migrating raptors such as eagles, ospreys, harriers, and red-tailed, ferruginous, and Swainson’s Hawks. We will also look at other east-side bird sites, including prairie habitat and glacial potholes. The course will end by 4 p.m. and will not be cancelled due to weather.

Food: The following meals are included: lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 2.

Accommodations: 1 night of lodging are included into the course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillowcase, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom. The community bathhouse has flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers.

Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entrance passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280

Equipment: You will receive a Glacier Institute Field Camp gear list once your register. Most important are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2-liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and warm layers. Please bring binoculars, field notebook and camera, if you wish. Your favorite field guides are helpful and if you have a spotting scope you are welcome to bring it along.

Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. On- trail or off-trail hikes in Glacier Park will be less than three miles, with up to 100 feet of elevation change.

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What to Expect On Your On This 2-Day Hike

We will be hiking to various sites at an easy pace, stopping frequently to looking at nesting and migrating raptors. The hiking may be on or off trail, up to 1,000 feet of elevation change.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier.
  • Instructor: Dave Shea.
  • The program will begin 7 a.m. on day 1 and ends at 4 p.m. on the final day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 3 with 100 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is requred, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.</>
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 hikers per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here