Our research station, the Ninepipes Center, is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation in the Mission Valley of western Montana. Nearby neighbors include the Mission Mountains to the east, Moiese hills to the west, and National Bison Range to the south.
However, our most proximal neighbor is the Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge, a network of marshes, ponds, and grasslands. The area is rich in plants, insects, fish, reptiles, and mammals. Endangered and high-profile species include Grizzly Bears and Rocky Mountain Elk, Bald and Golden Eagles, and Peregrine and Prairie Falcons. The area also hosts a newly restored population of Trumpeter Swans. The Ninepipes Center belongs to a large-scale riparian corridor, host to critical habitat during nesting and migration and one of the best sites for raptors in North America. From the center, researchers have close access to field sites, and program participants have ample opportunity for in-the-field experience and wildlife observation. From this location, we also promote preservation of this important flyway, one of the most significant migration corridors in North America.
Naturally, the Institute abounds in owls: Long-eared, Short-eared, Great Horned, Barn, and occasionally some Snowy Owls. Close by are Northern Pygmy-, Northern Saw-whet, Western Screech, and even occasional Flammulated Owls.
Each year, long-eared Owls perch on stick nests, and Short-eared Owls clap their wings, performing their courtship dance as they plummet from the sky. Great Horned Owls court and outside the windows of the office, reminding us to get out and do some good old-fashioned field work.