As raptors migrate in the fall toward wintering grounds and in the spring toward their nesting territory, oftentimes covering thousands of miles within a matter of weeks, they exert a tremendous amount of energy. They navigate numerous borders and habitats and face multiple threats along the way. For scientists, migration serves as the most efficient time to keep tabs on overall population numbers and see if a particular species may be in peril. To this end, HWI has been conducting raptor migration research in the American West for more than 30 years, utilizing our long-term data to work with wildlife managers on conservation plans.
The primary objective of these efforts is to track long-term population trends of diurnal raptors throughout primarily western North America. The information gathered enables us to better understand the life histories, ecology, status, and conservation needs of raptor populations in North America. Raptors feed atop food pyramids, inhabit most ecosystems, occupy large home ranges, and are sensitive to environmental contamination and other human disturbances. Therefore, they serve as important biological indicators of ecosystem health. Moreover, due to the remoteness and widespread distribution of most raptor populations, migration counts likely represent the most cost-effective and efficient method for monitoring the regional status and trends of multiple raptor species.
Learn how we are using our data with our Western Ridge Modeling project to create predictive map models.
All of our research sites are open to the public and provide opportunities to learn from our field crews about migration ecology and raptor identification. We welcome and encourage you to visit one of our sites and participate in the magnificent show that is raptor migration. We ask that if you are coming with an organized group of more than 6 individuals that you please register in advance. Click here to register. Click on our sites below for directions and details. Let's go hawk watching!
Most of our migration sites are located on remote ridgelines without power. Thanks to Goal Zero, we power our research with the latest solar panel and battery storage technology. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!
HWI migration sites now operated by our partners:
Bridger Mountains, Montana (Sacajawea Audubon Society)
Florida Keys, Florida (Florida Keys Hawkwatch)
Smith Point, Texas (Gulf Coast Bird Observatory)
Past HWI migration sites no longer in operation.