NH Audubon Prepares for Raptor Migration in Peterborough and Concord

Posted on September 14, 2015
A rehabilitated broad-winged hawk takes flight at the Carter Hill Raptor Observatory. Photo by Jen Esten.

A rehabilitated broad-winged hawk takes flight at the Carter Hill Raptor Observatory. Photo by Jen Esten.

Conservation community invites the public to celebrate hawk migration with festival and release of rehabilitated birds at observatories in Peterborough and Concord

This fall, New Hampshire Audubon will give two rehabilitated birds of prey a second chance when they’re released back into the wild as part of a week-long international celebration of raptors and the organization’s conservation efforts to help them prosper. New Hampshire Audubon’s two raptor observatories – at Carter Hill Orchard in Concord and Pack Monadnock Mountain in Peterborough – will host several raptor observation events throughout September and October, including two release events at 1 pm on Sunday, September 19 at Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park and 4 pm on Sunday, September 20 at Carter Hill. The releases coincide with peak broad-winged hawk migration season and observance of International Hawk Migration Week.

“All season long, thousands of visitors can experience seeing these magnificent creatures soar,” said Phil Brown, NH Audubon’s Raptor Observatory Coordinator and Director of Land Management. “Fall is a very exciting time for us with the anticipation of seeing a new generation of raptors migrate south, the thrill of large ‘kettles’ of raptors and unusual species, the ever-popular raptor releases, schools and families visiting to admire the spectacle, and our friendly and knowledgeable naturalists and volunteers who help us make the endeavor successful year after year.”

This year marks the eleventh consecutive year of NH Audubon conducting migratory raptor research and education, a practice which relies heavily on volunteer observers reporting their sightings of over a dozen species of raptors including Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, Ospreys and Bald Eagles. The data contributes to a growing database of migration information across New England, while education efforts allow NH Audubon to reach thousands of visitors and school groups during the season. In 2014, seasonal naturalists and volunteers logged more than 1,000 hours of observations, leading to a record-breaking year for some species.

“With each year, we capture more data and the big picture becomes much clearer helping us understand ecological patterns that impact both wildlife and humans,” Brown said. “The sites become outdoor classrooms and community centers for those who seek inspiration and knowledge in observing the spectacle of raptor migration.”

Funding for raptor rehabilitation and conservation efforts comes largely through donations from the public and community as well as partnerships with private businesses such as Carter Hill Orchard and the state (Miller State Park) also make these programs possible. The observatories also depend on corporate and foundation sponsors which this year include Ed Reilly Subaru, The Gilbert Verney Foundation, The Mountain Corporation and Nature’s Green Grocer.

Raptors are particularly sensitive indicators of environmental health and change because they inhabit most ecosystem types, occupy large home ranges, feed at the top of the food pyramid, and are highly sensitive to chemical contamination and other forms of human-caused disturbance. Spring and fall are the ideal times to collect data on raptors because they congregate during migration along coastlines, prominent mountain ridges and river valleys making it easy to tally them.

This year’s raptor observatory events include:

  • Raptor Festival and Release Weekend on September 19-20 at Pack Monadnock and Carter Hill, which features activities for birders of all ages such as crafts, identification workshops and live bird shows (weather permitting)
  • The Big Sit on Saturday, October 10 at Pack Monadnock and Carter Hill, where hawk watchers and birders spend an hour or the whole day tallying raptors
  • Peak Migration Workshop from 10 am to 2 pm on Friday, September 11 at Carter Hill’s raptor observatory
  • Raptor Migration at NH Audubon’s Observatories, a presentation from 7 to 8:30 pm on Friday, Sept. 11 at Massabesic Audubon Center
  • Raptor Migration at Pack Monadnock and Beyond from 7 to 8 pm on Wednesday, September 16 at Nashaway Chapter Meeting, Nashua Public Library

For a full schedule of raptor-related events, please visit nhaudubon.org/calendar. Some events do require registration and/or an entry fee. To learn more contact Phil Brown at 224-9909 x 334 or pbrown@nhaudubon.org.

About New Hampshire Audubon
Founded in 1914, New Hampshire Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. New Hampshire Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call (603) 224-9909.