PA Farmland Raptor Project

The Project

Short Eared Owl

Farmland raptors like the Barn Owl, American Kestrel, Short-eared Owl and Northern Harrier are in decline in recent years. These raptors benefit landowners and farmers by preying on rodents and pests, so they indicate a healthy environment.

We're trying to better understand these four focus birds and their distributions, but we need your help! Learn more about our research efforts, sponsors and how you can help!

Farmland Raptor Project

2012 Project Results

All Farmland Raptor Sightings Map

In April 2012, with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wild Resource Conservation Program, we began the Farmland Raptor Project to gain a better understanding of the distribution of the farmland raptors and to promote landowner conservation efforts on their behalf. 

We have had great success thus far and will continue to collect your sightings and follow-up with landowner assistance through the next year.

Read the 2012 Results

2014 Project Results

The Farmland Raptor Project completed its third year of monitoring and outreach. With support of local businesses, volunteers, and state and local organizations, and with continued reports by citizen scientists across the state, we had another great year.  By the end of December 2014 we had more than 134 sightings reported by more than 57 individuals. This is fewer observations than the previous year which reflects our reduced funding to conduct public outreach. However, by combining our data (triangles) with eBird sightings (circles), we were able to create a snapshot showing distribution of Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls during winter (blue) and summer (red) in Pennsylvania.

Northern Harrier

eBird Basic Dataset. Version: EBD_relMay-2013. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. May 2013.

The maps demonstrate that harriers are still widespread as a wintering bird and consistently observed in southeastern and western counties but far less are seen during the breeding season. A total 656 wintering harrier sightings were recorded during 2014, as opposed to 143 during breeding season. Some sightings may be the same pair, as harriers can range over many miles in search of food. 

Short-eared Owl

eBird Basic Dataset. Version: EBD_relMay-2013. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. May 2013.

The same is true of short-eared owls. A total 140 short-eared owl sightings were reported during winter while only two were sighted during the nesting season, one in Erie County and one in Franklin County. Nesting locations for short-eared owls do not show up on map as they also are sites of wintering birds. 

Have you seen a farmland raptor?

Your reported sightings are still very important so please continue to share your observations. Specific locations are a huge help:

Please use our quick online form to report your sighting. By taking a quick minute to fill out our form you are helping to save the farmland raptors.

Online Sightings Form Button

By Phone: Call 610-756-6000 x208
By eMail: Goodrich@hawkmountain.org

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