Bonney Butte HawkWatch is located on the southeastern flanks of Mt. Hood in northcentral Oregon. HWI has been conducting ongoing counts here since 1994 in an effort to monitor long-term trends in populations of raptors using this part of the Pacific Coast Flyway through the Cascade Mountains. Annual counts typically range from 2,500-4,500 migrant raptors of up to 18 species. The most commonly seen species are the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Turkey Vulture, and Golden Eagle, but this site is noted for relatively high numbers of Merlins (up to 100 or more per year). HWI has also been banding migratory raptors at Bonney Butte since 1995.
The Bonney Butte study site is located within the Mt. Hood National Forest, approximately 6 miles southeast of Government Camp, Oregon. The public is always welcome to visit Bonney Butte during the season to take advantage of the environmental education programs and the great hawkwatching at the site.
Download the site brochure and species check list.
Visitors and Groups
Come visit us at the site--everyone is welcome! Our educational interpreters will help you learn more about migration ecology, raptor identification, and our research efforts. If you are a large group, please contact us to schedule your visit in advance. Weekends can get busy, and we want to make sure your group has the best experience possible. If you are an individual or small group (5 or less), you do not need to schedule your visit.
Bonney Butte HawkWatch is located within the Mt. Hood National Forest. High clearance vehicles are recommended for the last 4 miles of the drive. Click here for a zoomed in view of the driving route and outdoor activities in the area (map provided by Outdoor Project).
From Portland, head east on I-84 toward Troutdale. Take exit 16 toward Wood Village and turn right onto NE 238th Drive. Continue on NE 238th Drive, which becomes SE 242nd Drive/NE Hogan Drive. After about 3 miles, turn left onto NE Burnside Road/US-26 East and continue for 40 miles. Exit onto US-35 North toward Hood River. After 4.7 miles (just after passing over White River), turn right onto paved NF-48. After 6.8 miles, turn left onto paved NF-4890. After 3.6 miles, at 4-way intersection, turn left onto 4-wheel drive NF-4891, following signs for Bonney Meadows. Keep right at the spurs to stay on NF-4891, and after 4.2 miles (just past Bonney Meadow Campground) park in umarked Bonney Butte parking area on the right side of the road. Hike 0.5 miles up the old lookout tower road (walk around the gate) to the summit.
Bird Field Guide (we have Jerry Liguori’s raptor guide books available at our store)
Hat and sunscreen
Seasonal clothes (dress in layers as weather can vary throughout the seaon)
When to Visit
We operate daily 9am-5pm, August 27-October 31. All activities are weather dependent and we do not conduct migration counts in inclement weather (heavy rain or snow). Click here to see a weather forecast for the count site. The best time to visit is during bulk passage (highest volume of raptors migranting through), which occures September 7 through October 12. Because of the sensitivity associated with raptor trapping/banding, as a general rule we do not allow visitors into our trapping blinds.