Shortly before the chairlift starts whirring at Bridger Bowl, close to 2,000 people will converge on the popular ski area for a different form of outdoor recreation: bird watching. The 10th annual Bridger Raptor Festival, October 11-14, celebrates the 2,000 raptor migrants that soar above the Bridgers between late August and mid-November.
According to Steve Hoffman, executive director of Montana Audubon and founder of HawkWatch International, this year’s festival has particularly good timing because peak migration occurs in mid-October. “On a good day we see over 100 birds,” said Hoffman, who leads a talk on raptor identification and a walk up to the counting station at the festival. The Bridgers host the largest concentration of fall migratory Golden Eagles in the United States. Fifteen other species of raptors also migrate consistently over the Bridgers before dispersing as far south as Central and South America for the winter.
The Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS) organized the festival in collaboration with Bridger Bowl, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Montana Raptor Conservation Center. With the exception of a wildlife film festival at the Emerson on October 11, all events are held at the Jim Bridger and Saddle Peak lodges at Bridger Bowl. For more information call 582-0526 or visit bridgerraptorfest.org.