Winter is the most harrowing time for raptors. The majority of young birds negotiating their first winter do not survive. Competition for resources looms large at a time when those resources are most scarce. Typically not social species, raptors often concentrate in specific prey-rich locations during this time, returning each year, as the area has proven to be of benefit for generations. These wintering habitats are therefore crucial to raptor population health and need protecting. Conducting winter raptor surveys allows us to monitor the health of the critical habitat locations raptors rely on each year, helping us define resource and conservation priorities.
HWI winter survey history
HWI started conducting winter studies in 1985 with Al Hinde as principal investigator, and included roadside census and banding of raptors in areas of Utah and Nevada. In 2011, our results were published in a joint report titled Wintering Raptors of the Great Basin. HWI formalized our methods in 2011 for citizen science volunteer roadside surveys, and has since grown our survey "hotspots" and volunteer base.
Why we conduct winter surveys
These studies help provide the missing knowledge necessary to our understanding raptors throughout their full life cycle, from spring nesting to fall migration to winter survival. It is a critical final piece of the puzzle to guide our management decisions in the face of increasing development in raptor territory. The surveys focus on finding high density territories that will identify potential mortality risk areas (shooting, poisoning, etc.) and mitigation opportunities. We are also using our data to educate landowners to help manage lands to be raptor friendly, while minimizing benefits to ravens.
Be a citizen science volunteer and participate in our Winter Surveys, fill out our volunteer form.