Píítaistakis Eagle Watch Site
Crowsnest Conservation Society
"There is a single ridge in the Rocky Mountains used by thousands of migrating eagles as the navigational pivot of their annual migrations. Accessible by foot, the Píítaistakis [Place of the Eagles in the Blackfoot language] Ridge is the geological tailbone of an unbroken spine of mountains descending from the Far North to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. A one-hour hike will lift you to where you may quite literally have to duck to avoid being clipped by a huge eagle intent on catching the updraft formed by the westerly wind smacking against the ridge."
Starting in late February [Píítaiki'somm, Golden Eagle Month in the Blackfoot language], and continuing into March "from throughout the eastern foothills and valleys of the U.S. Rocky Mountain West, the birds funnel towards Píítaistakis Ridge. From there, they share the same narrow updraft along the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies to their northern breeding ranges in Yukon and Alaska. In fall, adults, juveniles and the young of the year reverse the flight path south to Píítaistakis Ridge, from where they break formation to disperse among the foothills and valleys of the American Rockies."
The Road to the Place of the Eagles
Birdwatch Canada, 2008
"It is late afternoon on December 9, 2007 and I have finally called a halt to the second season-long autumn raptor count at our Píítaistakis-South Livingstone site near the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta. We started on August 25 and have spent 100 days in the field. We have survived temperatures in the minus twenties and wind gusts to 150 km/h on the 1900 m high ridge. And we have tallied almost 8300 southbound migrating raptors of 17 species. Included in the total were 700 Bald Eagles, 1219 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 166 Northern Goshawks, 188 Red-tailed Hawks, 35 Peregrine Falcons, and a truly astounding 5445 Golden Eagles. Finally, I am convinced that we have found our long sought El Dorado!
"It has long been known that Golden Eagles migrate through the western cordillera. In 1970, Dick Dekker reported Golden Eagle movement in the Alberta foothills near the Bow Valley. In 1974, well known falconer and artist Frank Beebe noted that “a major flight of Golden Eagles moves along the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains from central Alberta to Mexico in the fall, and back along the same route in the spring.” He speculated that many thousands of eagles were involved, but provided no supporting details. In the conducting fall reconnaissance counts at Windy Point in the Sheep River valley southwest of Calgary, and recorded steady movements of Golden Eagles following the mountain front.
Eagle's Ribs, Warrior of the Mountain Chief Piegan