Raptor Observatory

Pack Monadnock

2020 was a different kind of year at the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory. Still, NH Audubon and the Harris Center managed to have a successful hawk watch season, tallying 12,032 migrating birds of prey and sharing the science and magic of migration with nearly 5,000 visitors.

NH Audubon and the Harris Center are proud to co-sponsor this long-term research and education project, now having completed its 16th season. NH Audubon counts on support from local businesses, foundations, and supporters like you, in order to maintain its effective outreach and monitoring.

For more, read the Executive Summary (below) and the full 2020 season report.

 

In 2019, staff and volunteers greeted over 5,700 people and introduced many of them to a world of raptors, migration, and conservation. This year, due to COVID restrictions, the Observatory will look very different. Although plenty of people are hitting the trails and safely enjoying the outdoors, there are new restrictions including limitations on numbers of visitors to the platform (and to Miller State Park, our host partner). Visitors planning to view the migration this season should be aware that an online reservation system is in place and that reservations are now required by all visitors to enter the park. (More information about this system.)

Fortunately, we are still welcoming visitors to the Observatory area (though in a very limited fashion in order to maintain social distancing), and have planned many engaging, virtual raptor-related events. (More information about events.)

You can now follow the migration season online in two ways:

  • Hawkcount (select Pack Monadnock) to see daily reports and the next day’s predictions.

  • Harris Center Field Reports for periodic migration reports, photos, and informative links.

The Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory is a partnership between NH Audubon and The Harris Center for Conservation Education, and with Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation.

To gain a better understanding of the season, including an in depth species analysis, read the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory’s Fall 2020 Final Report

General Information

Download the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory Brochure.

Visit the Pack Monadnock Observatory page at The Harris Center website.

The Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory is located within Miller State Park near the summit of Pack Monadnock Mountain along the 22-mile long Wapack Ridge in the southwestern portion of the state. The site was launched in September 2005 with funding from the Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, The Monadnock Community Foundation, and the Putnam Foundation.

This location is an observation area that can accommodate large crowds and is ADA accessible. It is reached by a short trail from a parking area at the top of the mountain, as well as from several hiking trails. The trails in Miller State Park are open to hikers during all seasons, and the auto road is open through mid-October (and to late October on weekends) barring poor weather conditions. Visitors can hike one of two 1.5-mile long trails or drive to the summit and walk a 0.2 mile accessible trail to the observation area. Weekends from mid-September to mid-October may result in limited parking within the park and, especially, on the summit. Upwards of 5,000 people may visit the platform over the course of a fall season, while weekdays during peak season (mid-September through early October) often feature large school group visits. Reservations to Miller State Park are required for school or other large group visits, and a donation to New Hampshire Audubon in support of the Observatory is suggested. There is a small entrance fee upon entering Miller State Park.

Miller State Park offers hiking trails, scenic vistas, leaf peeping, and bathrooms. The auto road is open to the public 9-5 daily through mid-October, and sporadically afterwards. The park is otherwise open to the public during daylight hours.

You can now follow the migration season online in two ways:

The Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory is a partnership between NH Audubon and The Harris Center for Conservation Education, and with Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation.

Site History

Pack Monadnock has been a popular spot for hawkwatching since the 1960’s. Iain MacLeod founded the site in 2005 for New Hampshire Audubon and initiated full coverage by a seasonal Biologist/Interpreter, which has occurred continuously since then. Pack Monadnock has proven to be an excellent site with an average of nearly 10,000 raptors/season, making it one of the most productive sites in northern New England.

Topography and Migration

The observatory is located within an expansive, granite clearing on the north face of Pack Monadnock, surrounded by red spruce and hardwood forest. It provides stunning views of Mt. Monadnock and the surrounding area, a panoramic view of the green mountains of Vermont to the west, the White Mountains to the north and the coastal plain to the east. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Washington.

Migration is most pronounced on northwest winds, especially on the several days following the passage of a cold front. Significant daily and seasonal flights of Broad-winged Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles have occurred here. Late season (mid-October through mid-November) can be highlighted by Golden Eagles and Northern Goshawks.

For current and historic migration data, visit HawkCount.org.

Directions

Visit Google Maps for directions to Pack Monadnock and Miller State Park located at 13 Miller Park Road in Peterborough, NH 03458.

If you are planning to bring a school group to Pack Monadnock, please notify Miller State Park (603-924-3672) in advance.

 

Photos, from the top: Hawkwatching on Pack Monadnock, by Phil Brown; Broad-winged Hawk, by Judd Nathan; observers at Pack Monadnock, by Meade Cadot; a group of students learns about raptor migration, by Phil Brown.

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We regularly observe and count 14 species at NH Audubon’s Raptor Observatories.

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About Us

Founded in 1914, NH 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. NH Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on NH Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.