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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.

“Being at ORI is a total-immersion owl experience.” – Lynne Warren, author.
To accommodate research and education programs, the Ninepipes Center has the following facilities:

  • Our main house provides lodging and office space to visiting researchers and instructors. It also contains owl carvings, owl paintings, owl drawings, owls in every imaginable form, and hundreds of natural history and science books.
  • The Nancy Claflin Cabin is a writer’s retreat, containing owl species accounts, reprints from science journals, and innumerable books about owls. The cabin sits next to a pond and commands a panoramic view of the Mission range.
  • Our Lab, called the “OR,” thanks to its sponsorship by two Missoula physicians, enables researchers to process their data. Surrounded by owl art and replicas, they log their findings, store their samples, and analyze their findings.
  • Our Tool and Equipment Rooms make it easy to repair, maintain, and house field equipment. Winter crews borrow below-zero camping gear, raptor biologists borrow poles and ropes and ladders, and stranded researchers repair their vehicles.

This is our Ninepipes dream: We want to create a place perfect for research and education, outreach and conservation. We want to create forums for scientific collaboration, training for citizen scientists, and networking groups for professional land managers and private land owners. We want to create a place that will improve and refine conservation policy.

  • The Nan Harris Library will allow researchers and wildlife enthusiasts — volunteers, professors, community members, teachers, high schoolers, wildlife managers, and university interns — to read, study, and review scientific literature.
  • The Banbury Barn will house scientific seminars and public lectures, with staff offices and a presentation hall. We envision hosting conferences that enable citizen scientists, government and non-government agencies across North America to collaborate and share their work.
  • The Bunkhouse will allow researchers and program attendants to live in close proximity to sites for research and wildlife observation.

Consider sponsoring an ORI building project!


The Owl Research Institute is dedicated to owl research, education and conservation.
( 406)-644-3416