East of Ruby Valley are the Goshute Mountains, dominating the busiest raptor migration route in the western United States. Running north to south, the Goshutes act as a funnel, concentrating migrating raptors between the barren Great Salt Lake to the east and the Great Basin mountain ranges to the west. The Goshutes range up to 10,000 feet, and thousands of migrating birds take advantage of this forested finger of bristlecone pines and fir trees to rest and forage during their annual fall migration. The result is a raptor-watcher’s dream—hundreds of migrating raptors soaring past on a daily basis.
For more than two decades HawkWatch International has conducted bird counts and banding programs in the Goshutes during the migration season (late August to early November). Standing on the crest of the Goshutes, you can observe golden and bald eagles, American kestrels, merlins, peregrine and prairie falcons, northern goshawks, northern harriers, and sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, red-tailed, broad-winged, Swainson’s, ferruginous, and rough-legged hawks. Add in the chance to glimpse flammulated, northern saw-whet, and great horned owls and your raptor quota is pretty much filled up.
HawkWatch International welcomes visitors to its observation area and at its banding site, where you can observe birds in the hand and the banding process up close. From the observation area on the crest of the Goshutes you can gaze on soaring raptors at or below eye level. Hundreds of raptors migrate past the Goshutes in a typical day, and the HawkWatch banding station captures, bands, and releases dozens of birds daily.