Conservation + Research

Montana Raptor Conservation Center (MRCC) bands releasable raptors which provides data that is valuable in studies of dispersal and migration, behavior and social structure, lifespan and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth.  

Currently MRCC contributes blood samples and feather samples from Bald and Golden Eagles to Dr. Al Harmata.  This research focuses on the origination of environmental lead that shows up in local raptors. The research project compares bird lead isotopes from known lead poisoning to free flying captured birds’ isotopes.    

We do test for lead in house using a Lead Care II machine (test kit cost $400 for 48 tests we purchase every year). Any other blood testing we usually send to Minnesota Raptor Center. Some blood testing can be done in Bozeman at the Montana State Diagnostic Lab. 

Montana Raptor Conservation Center contributes biological samples towards:

  • Assessing the Historic and Contemporary Genetic Diversity of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles Across North America.”   Dr. Maria Wheeler (Duquesne University), Dr. Brady Porter (Duquesne University), Dr. Todd Katzner (West Virginia University).
  • Evaluating Links Between Diet, Trophic Position, and Eagle Movements.” Dr. Todd Katzner (West Virginia), Dr. David Nelson (University of Maryland)
  • Lead Isotope Ratios in Tissues of Golden Eagles in the Western United States: An Investigation Into Possible Sources of Contamination.” Dr. Al Harmata, (Montana State University Ecology Dept.) 
  • Collaboration with Purdue University to provide biological samples from eagle eyes for the researchers to measure eagle vision and hearing to help wind farm engineers design effective deterrents that specifically target visual and auditory sensitivities of Bald and Golden Eagles.
  • “Long-term band encounters of rehabilitated North American eagles”  Dr. Al Harmata, MSU Bozeman, George J. Montopoli, Department of Mathematics & Environmental Science, Arizona Western College Yuma, AZ, Becky Kean, Montana Raptor Conservation Center, Bozeman, MT                                                                   Published in Intermountain Journal of Sciences

Evaluating the health of the Yellowstone River ecosystem in Montana by monitoring a sentinel species, the osprey (Pandion haliaetus):

  • “Monitoring Contaminant Levels in Nestling Ospreys.” Kayhan Ostovar, (Rocky Mountain College), Marco Restani, (St. Cloud State University)
  • Determining Settlement Patterns of an expanding Osprey Populations” Kayhan Ostovar, (Rocky Mountain College), Marco Restani (St. Cloud State University)