Observers at the Hay Meadow (Mt Lorette) scanning for raptors ©RMERF

Volunteer observers are needed for the Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation’s (RMERF) Spring and Fall Count of Migrating Raptors.

RMERF’s primary aim is to count the number of migrating Golden Eagles that pass by in the spring on their way to nesting grounds in the Yukon and Alaska and again in the fall when they are migrating south to their wintering grounds.  By repeating this over many years, we build up a database upon which we can more accurately estimate their total population and whether that population is increasing or declining.

Immature Golden Eagle ©RMERF

Why is this important?  The Golden Eagle is a “Top Predator” which means it relies on a healthy ecosystem that needs to be in place to support the chain of life up to the top predator.  When the ecosystem is degraded, the food chain will break down and the number of top predators will necessarily decline in accordance.  This is important information as it is a significant indicator of the health of the environment that sustains all of life including our own.  How can we decide on the right course of action unless we know there is a problem?

RMERF is looking for additional observers. Principal Observers are responsible for identifying and recording the migrating raptors as well as any other birds and mammals that may be seen at the count site. Assistant Observers help to spot the birds. As their skills improve, Assistants can become Principal Observers.

RMERF holds pre-spring and pre-fall count workshops to go over our standardized reporting, safety, and other procedures. We also offer modest honorariums to both Principal and Assistant Observers to help defray expenses.

For more information, please check our website:, and/or contact Count Coordinator Cliff Hansen by telephone: 403-673-2422 or email.

To get a first-hand look at what we do, please visit us at Hay Meadows, and then consider volunteering to help RMERF continue this important work. The next count is the 2016 Spring Count that will begin on 01 March and end on 22 April 2016.

Wolf watching the observation team ©RMERF

Cliff Hansen says: “Normally the weather is quite pleasant, the fresh air exhilarating, and the scenery stunning.  Also, there is an ever present possibility of seeing an unexpected land animal and/or bird.  Finally, there is the sight of migrating raptors following the mountain ridges, primarily Golden Eagles which can number in the thousands over a season.  This is far better than being stuck in some office somewhere in an urban jungle and our efforts do add to our understanding of the environment in which we exist. Why am I a volunteer observer for the Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation’s (RMERF) Spring and Fall Count of Migrating Raptors?  That is a question I ask myself when I’m standing from dawn to dusk out in the open at Hay Meadows in Kananaskis Country when the temperature drops below -15˚ C, the wind is gusting from the north above 40 kph and the driving snow makes observation near impossible.  It is then I remind myself that we are here to gather valuable data and that inclement weather is not the usual situation. “