Birds of Prey
Instructor: Dave Shea
July 12 at 7 a.m. – July 13 at 4 p.m.
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.
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’s birds of prey in particular. Further morning activities will include a visit by a local raptor rehabilitator with 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 work 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 Field Camp and travel to the east-side of the 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 pillow case, 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 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, less than three miles with up to 1,000 feet of elevation change.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credits for our courses.