There is something about raptors that evokes wonder in humans. Maybe it's the size of a golden eagle or the speed of a peregrine falcon or the vicelike grip of the carnivore's talons and flesh-ripping beak.

Or maybe it's the freedom of flight epitomized in how raptors soar like no other animal.Whatever your reason, Hawk-Watch International has rolled out a watch-the-raptors welcome mat at its observation site near Jordanelle Dam. Some 5,000 raptors are expected to pass overhead during the monitoring season, which opened Feb. 24 and runs through May 5.

Visitors also get to see HawkWatch biologists trapping and banding the birds that are lured into snares.

The main purpose of this particular banding station is for public education, said biologist Trish Miller. "It's so important to bring people up here to see what we are actually doing."

The data gathered at the Jordanelle site will be combined with observations by scores of HawkWatch volunteers at other flyways throughout the West. April is the best month to see the birds.

The HawkWatch monitoring site is located on a well-marked trail about one mile above milepost 11 on U.S. 40 just north of Heber City. For more information about visiting the site, contact HawkWatch at 524-8511.