Northern Harrier - Montezuma NWR - © Dana Kalir - Nov 09, 2015

Northern Harrier – Montezuma NWR – © Dana Kalir – Nov 09, 2015

The 2016/2017 Montezuma Winter Raptor Survey season will begin on November 16, less than one month away. Raptor migrations for the most part will be completed, and it will be time to learn what species have chosen to spend the winter at the Greater Montezuma Wetlands Complex. Our weekly surveys provide important information that will assist the Refuge and the DEC in managing habitat to attract and hold raptors. Accurate data collection is always our highest priority. Surveyor’s work is important, and I assure you that the time devoted to helping with the surveys will be appreciated. There are some additional benefits among which include an opportunity to sharpen raptor 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. 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 will follow essentially the same protocol used in the past several seasons. Surveys will be conducted weekly on Wednesdays, beginning one half hour before sunset and ending one half hour after sunset. Last year we had a total of 20 survey sites to staff and I would expect about the same again this year. Each site will be staffed with at least one veteran surveyor who is able to make quick and often difficult identification of the 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 chances of spotting raptors. Attached is some explanatory information. The first attachment provides background information about the surveys and the survey protocol. The second attachment contains some important housekeeping items that will help you to understand how to get started. We meet each week in the Refuge Offices across from the Visitor’s Center at the times listed below. There 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.

Wednesday, Nov. 16, meet at 3:15 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 23, meet at 3:20 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 30, meet at 3:20 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 7, meet at 3:20 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 14, meet at 3:20 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 21, meet at 3:20 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 28, meet at 3:25 pm

The survey season runs through March. Raptor Survey dates (always Wednesday) and meeting times for January, February, and March, will be announced later, including information about the Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey to be held the morning of January 13, 2017.

You are certain to enjoy a number of very nice additions and enhancements made at the Refuge and WMA. If you are interested in participating in any of the raptor surveys and being added to the surveyor address list to receive weekly reports of the survey results, contact David Marsh, at