Soaring Success: Former Participants Share Their Experiences in the Raptor Field Techniques Course

Posted on June 22, 2023 in Education

This July and November, Hawk Mountain is once again offering the immersive and unique Introductions to Raptor Field Techniques course, which is open to adults of any background. This workshop allows participants to build confidence in their raptor field techniques by learning new methods or honing existing skills with the experts at Hawk Mountain. Throughout the course, participants receive hands-on learning experiences with raptors, including trapping methods, handling, banding, measurements, blood sampling, broadcast call surveys, telemetry, and more, and they get to participate directly in real research projects with significant individual interaction and training. 

The first session runs from Thursday, July 13 through Sunday, July 16, and the second session runs from Thursday, November 9 through Sunday, November 12. Learn more about the course and register for either of the sessions here. Scholarship opportunities are available! 

Read below for first-hand testimonies from former participants who experienced this one-of-a-kind course. 

Deborah Shalders, Raptor Field Techniques Course Participant

“As a mostly retired physician with a passion for raptors (and a secret dream of becoming a raptor biologist), the Raptor Field Techniques course was a life altering dream come true for me. It is simply not possible to put into words the joy that I felt when holding a fluffy black vulture chick in my arms for the first time or seeing an extremely elusive broad wing hawk incubating its eggs in its forest dwelling or holding a waiting-to-be measured-and-banded kestrel chick in my hands. Along with a small intimate group of diverse raptor seekers and two passionate raptor scientist instructors with an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge, this course allowed me hands-on opportunities that I could experience no where else like at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. From nest hunting forest hikes, to roadside trapping and banding, to tree climbing, and mist net extractions, I feel a deep gratitude and sense of privilege to have been welcomed, along with my fellow classmate travelers, into the world of these world class raptor field biologist instructors and their specialized techniques for exploring the natural world of raptors.”

- Deborah Shalders, retired physician (summer 2022 class)

Christina Clawson, Raptor Field Techniques Course Participant

“As a high school teacher, this field course gave me practical and reliable information I can incorporate into my class. For example, the collection and analysis of data and ethical treatment of animals. I also got to use and see various kinds of tech that are used in the field, which was both cool and informative. I absolutely fell in love with this course. I am a biologist at heart and a bird lover. It was great to interact with many kinds of raptors, my personal favorite moment, road trapping of the American kestrel. I gained a better appreciation for the raptors of Hawk Mountain.”

- Christina Clawson, High School Science Teacher for Manheim Township (summer 2022 class)

Timothy McGuire, Raptor Field Techniques Course Participant

“As a professional consulting ecologist/avian biologist, I reviewed this field course to determine suitability for providing training to younger biologists that need specialized experience to support our avian hazard management work, and for providing Continuing Education for more seasoned biologists to maintain skills and expertise that don’t always have time to be cultivated regularly on the job. This course is nothing short of GREAT! The instructors are informed and passionate, and conducting real research with state-of-the-science techniques that they share generously with the students. The class size is quite small, so it’s all personal attention and hands-on instruction. You’ll pick up field ID techniques, and an understanding of behavior and biology that can only really be gained by bird-in-hand.  It is now a required course for all our crew that wishes to support our avian work!”

- Timothy McGuire, Senior Project Manager, Environmental Services for McCormick Taylor (fall 2021 class)

Debbie Carney, Raptor Field Techniques Course Participant

“Thank you for spending your time and sharing your knowledge with us. Those four days for me, were up there with some of my favorite.  I can’t say enough how much I love Hawk Mountain. Every time we go, it’s an amazing experience.”

- Debbie Carney, (fall 2021 class)