Live Montana raptors will show their feathers at this year’s Bridger Raptor Festival held Oct. 7-8 at Bridger Bowl. The annual event features nature walks and talks, educational programs, and an opportunity to see powerful birds of prey up close.
Staff and volunteers from the Montana Raptor Conservation Center will be at the festival with several education birds—rescued raptors that are unable to return to the wild—both Saturday and Sunday. MRCC favorites Pilgrim the turkey vulture, Bu the great horned owl, Watson the American kestrel, Chaco the Swainson’s hawk and Otis the northern saw-whet owl will all be on hand during the festival.
MRCC will offer a chance to win a free ski pass and other prizes through the Wingin’-It Raffle, which supports the raptor center and its birds. Founded in 1988, the MRCC strives to improve the welfare of raptors across Montana through rehabilitation of injured birds, community education and partnerships for raptor conservation and research.
On Oct. 6 Yellowstone Forever will sponsor a kick-off event at The Ellen Theatre with the showing of “The Eagle Huntress” at 7 p.m. This film follows the story of a 13-year-old Kazakh girl from Mongolia as she seeks to compete in a Mongolian eagle festival.
The Bridger Raptor Festival centers around the largest known golden eagle migration in the U.S. According to MRCC Board Member Jeannie Counce, the Bridger Mountains are located in the middle of one of the most frequented flyways for migrating golden eagles, a migration pat
h known as the Rocky Mountain Flyway.
Since 1991, volunteers from Hawkwatch International and Montana Audubon have been conducting bird counts in the Bridger Mountains, and each season bird watchers tally between 1,200 and 1,900 golden eagles passing through, Counce said. The migration typically runs from the beginning of September through the end of October, with the peak activity period occurring in October, coinciding with the Bridger Raptor Festival.
For more information on the Bridger Raptor Festival, go to bridgerraptorfest.org.