Volunteers Needed for Montezuma Winter Raptor Survey Season (November 18th)

Red-tailed Hawk - Montezuma NWR (Muckrace) - © Dick Horsey - Sep 19, 2015

Red-tailed Hawk – Montezuma NWR (Muckrace) – © Dick Horsey – Sep 19, 2015

The 2015/2016 Montezuma Winter Raptor Survey season will begin November 18th. Surveys have been conducted annually at Montezuma since 2010, and will be conducted weekly on Wednesdays, one half hour before sunset to one half hour after sunset. Surveyors follow an established protocol. We need veteran surveyors who are able to identify raptors who frequent our area. If you are an inexperienced surveyor, or even new to birding, you are welcome to attend and you will be assigned to accompany a veteran surveyor. The more eyes we have at each site the greater our chance of spotting raptors. Our work generates important data for use by the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and Department of Environmental Conservation in managing habitat. Accurate data collection is our number one priority. Our work is important, and I assure you that it will be appreciated.

Approximately 20 sites at the Greater Montezuma Wetland Complex are surveyed. Species of particular interest are the Short-eared Owl (SEOW), which is endangered in N.Y. State, and the Northern Harrier (NOHA), which is threatened. All raptors are counted and their specific activity recorded.The surveys also provide an opportunity to sharpen ID skills, enjoy watching raptors conduct their deadly serious efforts in search of food under difficult climate conditions, and, experience the solitude of Montezuma in the winter.

Northern Harrier - Montezuma NWR (Muckrace) - © Paul English - Sep 19, 2015

Northern Harrier – Montezuma NWR (Muckrace) – © Paul English – Sep 19, 2015

You will visit parts of Montezuma that are normally closed to the public, and learn more about what attracts raptors to the complex in the winter season.
We meet at the Refuge Office at the times listed below where you will receive a briefing, obtain assignments, and pick up materials for the survey. Surveyors will return to the office after completion of the survey to turn in data and exchange information about experiences.
The meeting times for November and December are:
  • Wednesday, Nov. 18, meet at 3:25 pm
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25, meet at 3:20 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec. 2, meet at 3:20 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec. 9, meet at 3:20 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec. 16, meet at 3:20 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec. 23, meet at 3:20 pm
  • Wednesday, Dec. 30, meet at 3:25 pm
Bald Eagle - Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge © D. Sherony

Bald Eagle – Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge © D. Sherony

The survey season runs through March. The survey dates and times for January, February, and March will be announced in mid-December. Surveyors must sign up to attend a survey no later than the evening before the survey date. If you are interested, please e-mail me, David Marsh,  at [email protected], put “Raptor Survey” in the subject line, and I will add you to the surveyor list. You will then receive weekly summary reports of the survey results.

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