Why Raptors?

Snowy owl landing on snow-covered ground

Studying raptors is important, because they are sensitive bioindicators, meaning they provide clues about the health of the ecosystem in which they live. Raptors often sit at the top of the food web and are therefore highly vulnerable to changes in the environment such as declines in insects, mammals, small birds, fishes, and increases in contaminants and other environmental conditions. Changes in the health of raptor populations can indicate changes in the environment, and by monitoring such shifts we hope to proactively protect the birds as well as other wildlife and the habitats humans share with them. 

Rachel Carson utilized long-term bald eagle data from Hawk Mountain’s migration count in her famous book Silent Spring to emphasize the need of legislation that would remove harmful chemicals from our shared environment. This exemplifies the importance of studying patterns, processes, and population trends of raptors, as Hawk Mountain scientists do.  

Secondly, as a conservation organization, Hawk Mountain prioritizes both research and education. Raptors are inherently engaging given their charismatic presence and prominence within myth and culture worldwide. As such, they provide an optimal catalyst for public engagement in the natural world.  Raptors connect people to their environment.

Finally, raptors are widespread, migrate across borders, and are globally recognized as important members of natural communities. They provide opportunities for international collaborations to promote conservation and allow Hawk Mountain and partnering organizations to facilitate change globally, regionally, and locally.