Site Description

The Bridger Mountains site lies within the Gallatin National Forest on the east slope of the mountain range, about 25 km north of Bozeman and 3 km north of Saddle Peak. The count occurs from a helicopter platform located atop the ridge above Bridger Bowl Ski Area.


The 28th Fall 2019 Bridger Raptor Count hopes to contribute to the understanding of fall raptor migration in Montana.  We also promote an awareness of raptor ecology and conservation needs through public outreach.

Project Description

This ongoing effort monitors long-term trends in populations of raptors using this northern portion of the Rocky Mountain Flyway. The flyway is noted for the largest concentration of Golden Eagles in the lower 48 states, with peak eagle activity (sometimes more than 200 eagles/day) in mid-October. Golden Eagle counts typically range from 1200-1900 birds per season. Up to 1,500 migrants of 17 additional species also may be seen each season, with Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, and American Kestrels among the most commonly seen species.


Principal Investigator: Stephen Hoffman

Steve has dedicated his entire 38-year career to wildlife conservation. After 10 years as a wildlife biologist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service and US Bureau of Land Management, Steve founded HawkWatch International (HWI) to monitor migratory raptor populations along mountaintop flyways throughout the western US.  Steve left HWI in 1999 to serve as Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Pennsylvania.  Steve moved to Bozeman, Montana in 2004. In 2016 Steve retired as Montana Audubon’s Executive Director, serving in this role for more than a decade.  He earned his M.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University in 1979. 

Raptor migration observer: Adam Richardson

Adam first became aware of birds in elementary school through his sixth-grade teacher Mr. McCormick.  It wasn’t until 10 years later working as a river guide that he became aware of birding as a hobby and he began keeping a life list.  More recently, as a participant of Patagonia’s Environmental Internship Program he had the opportunity to work in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, America’s only Arctic refuge.  Thanks to the careful guidance and support of field biologists employed by Manomet of Massachusetts, his interest in birds was renewed eternally.  Upon returning to his full-time job he realized his most intense passion was avian studies.  He spent 3 years working as a field technician on a variety of upland game bird studies throughout the United States.  Currently he splits his time between counting raptors in the spring and fall in Montana and summers performing avian point counts throughout the intermountain west.