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Crowsnest Area Observation Sites

General Information

There are other observation sites near the east end of the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. They are:

Piitaistakis  (The Place of Eagles Site),  The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, Vicki Ridge and Beaver Mines.

These sites are not served on a regular basis by Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation observers. You can go to any of the sites on your own; your visit will be much enhanced if you can arrange to be there when one of our experts is present (you will be very welcome, and there is no charge). Contact us for more information.

 

Piitaistakis (South Livingstone Ridge). Crowsnest Pass

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“The Place of the Eagles”
From www.piikanination.com

The translation of the Blackfoot name “Piitaistakis” was provided by elders of the Piikani First Nation, of the Blackfoot Confederacy. We are very grateful. The name suggests that the migration was well known by pre contact indigenous people. In Blackfoot speech Piitaistakis is pronounced Beeta-ish-takah.

Piitaistakis is our best accessible site for observation of Golden Eagles and other raptors in the fall. Snow cover makes spring access difficult.

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South end of Livingstone Range as seen from “Piitaistakis”

One day in 2002 two of our members, who live in the Crowsnest area, explored this ridge and they were rewarded by seeing over one thousand migrating Golden Eagles. This may be a one day record which no one else on earth can claim. Sadly it may never be repeated! We are alarmed by what appears to be a slow but marked decrease in the numbers of migrating Golden Eagles recorded by our continual study since 1992.

Piitaistakis lies at the south end of the Livingstone Range along which migrating raptors are funneled in both spring and fall. The more or less single ridge of the Livingstone Range continues northwestward with few breaks for almost 100 km i.e. as far as the Highwood River gap. North of that point it is replaced by a number of parallel ridges. To the south of Piitaistakis the mountain ranges are also broken up (less linear). So Golden Eagles from the south in spring and from the north in fall are attracted to the clearly defined, stand alone Livingstone Range. The funnelling results in large numbers of Golden Eagles and other raptors passing Piitaistakis in full view. Also, since the site is high, the Golden Eagles are close and plumage stages, from which age ranges can be determined, are evident. Other great sites e.g. Plateau Mountain, the Old Man Gap and Mt. Livingstone, exist along the Livingstone Range but they are quite remote by comparison.

To reach Piitaistakis turn north off Highway #3 on the road to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. At the hairpin bend continue straight ahead over the cattle guard. Then drive 3 km east (pass road to left at 1.7km). The road beyond the cattle guard is gravel and steep in places. Park your vehicle in the obvious grassy area. The UTM coordinates of Piitaistakis is 0690636 5497945.

Map to Piitaistakis – Under development – click for larger

Walk northeast along an obvious trail which takes you up through a wooded gully to an old ruined mine hoist house. From there take the road north (left) to the site which is on an open knoll with a fiberglass tower.

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CR Merilyn Liddell Climbing to “Piitaistakis” Crowsnest Pass to west.

The hike from the parking spot to the observation site is quite demanding. It involves an elevation rise of over 300 meters and up to one hour travel time. Visitors should wear strong suitable footwear for the hike and carry in warm and wind-proof clothing for the ridge. Your own binoculars, water and food should be taken. There are no facilities at the site!

Disclaimer

The Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation (RMERF) will not accept any responsibility for injury or loss sustained by participants (for any perceived reason including negligence) in any field activities or other functions organized by or for RMERF

 

Crowsnest Pass Frank Slide Interpretive Centre eagle watching site.

In April 1903 a huge rock fall thundered down from Turtle Mountain and buried part of the coal mining town of Frank. The present small town of Frank is seen to the right of the rock debris. Travel Alberta maintains a comprehensive interpretive centre at the edge of the slide debris close to Frank – open all year. http://www.history.alberta.ca/frankslide/

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CR David Thomas. Turtle Mt. and Frank Slide from near “Piitaistakis.” View to south.

March and April access to the Piitaistakis site is difficult due to snow cover. Therefore, most spring watching and recording of Golden Eagle and other raptor movement takes place at this alternative observation site situated beside the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. This observation site is in the Crowsnest River valley close to Frank and access is very easy. The birds can be clearly seen but they are further away (higher) than at Piitaistakis. This site can also be used in the fall if so desired.

Visitors are free to use the parking, deck and toilet facilities. If eagles are sparse, the excellent exhibits can be entered for a small entrance fee.

To reach Piitaistakis turn north off Highway #3 on the road to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. At the hairpin bend continue straight ahead over the cattle guard. Then drive 3 km east (pass road to left at 1.7km). The road beyond the cattle guard is gravel and steep in places. Park your vehicle in the obvious grassy area. The UTM coordinates of Piitaistakis is 0690636 5497945.

If you are a visitor to southwest Alberta you will probably be interested in where you can find suitable accommodation and other exciting places to visit.
Visitor Information and Attractions for Crowsnest area.


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