Raptor Observatories Open Sept. 1–Nov. 15

Posted on August 27, 2015
‘Maria Colby of Wings of the Dawn releases a rehabilitated broad-winged hawk at Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in September of 2014 in front of a crowd of awed onlookers.’ Photo by Andre Moraes.

‘Maria Colby of Wings of the Dawn releases a rehabilitated broad-winged hawk at Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in September of 2014 in front of a crowd of awed onlookers.’ Photo by Andre Moraes.

The autumnal spectacle of raptor migration returns to the skies this September and is best enjoyed at NH Audubon’s two raptor observatories, Pack Monadnock (Peterborough) and Carter Hill (Concord). At each site, a NH Audubon naturalist and a team of volunteers collect hourly migration data from September 1 through November 15 and educate the public about raptor migration through school visits, formal education programs, and through constant, casual learning opportunities that the observatories afford.

The 2014 season was exceptional. Relationships between NH Audubon and hosts, Miller State Park and Carter Hill Orchard, strengthened and grew, the level of community support increased with new corporate partners playing a greater role than ever, and over 10,000 visitors experienced migration between the two sites. Pack Monadnock celebrated the milestone of reaching the tenth consecutive season of full coverage, enabling its data to be utilized by the Raptor Population Index (RPI), a tool that helps determine continent-wide raptor population estimates.

Over these 10 years, we’ve learned a lot about raptor migration trends and, with more data, we begin to see new patterns emerge. For example, the outlook for many of our familiar raptor species, such as the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon, is positive; however, there are stark downward trends of a few iconic species like the American Kestrel and Northern Harrier. Our sites’ contributions become increasingly important as each stands the test of time and develops greater consistency and a deeper database.

This fall features programs and workshops focused on in-depth identification for both youth and adults, including the annual Raptor Rally co-sponsored by NH Audubon and Project SEE, in which all of Concord’s fourth graders descend upon Carter Hill Observatory to learn about raptors. Naturalists and volunteers instruct these students in raptor identification and life histories, and help them make the connections between raptors and environmental stewardship. The ever-popular Raptor Release also returns in September – this year as a festival – and includes the release of a rehabilitated raptor at each site, and more.

For a closer look at NH Audubon’s raptor observatories, including upcoming events, links to past seasons’ reports, what to expect this fall, and how to support these important projects, please visit our Raptor Observatories page. Throughout the season, be sure to check daily reports and next day forecasts on each site’s pages at hawkcount.org.

There are many reasons to support NH Audubon’s monitoring of raptor populations and educating diverse audiences. Your support will help us carry out these goals effectively. For information about becoming a raptor observatory sponsor, please contact Phil Brown at pbrown@nhaudubon.org or at 224-9909 x334.

Carter Hill Observatory in Concord, NH. Photo by Steve Bennett.

Carter Hill Observatory in Concord, NH. Photo by Steve Bennett.


ed reilly subaruThank you to Ed Reilly Subaru in Concord, NH for once again supporting this effort. Ed Reilly Subaru is a family-owned and operated, full-service Subaru dealership that has operated out of Concord, NH for 20 years.

Thank you to Carter Hill Orchard and Miller State Park for hosting us again this year.

Carter Hill Orchard, our host site in Concord, offers a classic pick-your-own apples experience, as well as a full farm stand complete with freshly baked goods. Miller State Park (fee to enter), host of our Pack Monadnock site in Peterborough, offers some of the finest mountain views in southern NH and an auto road to the summit, as well as premier hiking. Both observatories offer accessibility options, and are free and open to the public between 9 am and 5 pm daily. NH Audubon staff and/or volunteers are present to count migrants – and to educate the public – at both sites during all but the most challenging weather conditions.