Discover life on the wing.
Bird Research with the Harris Center
For many, birds serve as an entry point into the natural world, yet much remains unknown about their lives and conservation needs. Harris Center biologists are tracking raptor migrations, banding owls, building nest boxes, and more — all in an effort to better understand and protect our feathered friends.
Every autumn, thousands of hawks, eagles, and other raptors wing through New Hampshire on their way to wintering grounds in South and Central America — a spectacle that is considered one of the great wonders of the natural world. At the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in Peterborough, Harris Center biologists collect hawk migration data as part of an international effort to monitor raptor population trends.
The international Motus Wildlife Tracking System network has revolutionized the study of winged migration, revealing never-before-seen details about migration routes, timing, flight speed, stopover behavior, and the locations of critical migratory and overwintering habitat — and we’re learning more every day.
Through our Broad-winged Hawk tagging partnership with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, biologists have affixed transmitters to five hawks breeding in and around the Harris Center’s SuperSanctuary of protected lands — shedding new light on the life history and migration of this iconic raptor species.
American Kestrels have declined across much of their breeding range and are a Species of Special Concern in New Hampshire, but nest boxes can help reverse the negative trend. By installing and monitoring kestrel nest boxes throughout the Monadnock Region, the Harris Center hopes to bolster local kestrel populations — and to highlight the importance of high-quality grassland habitat for all wildlife of open lands.
Small, secretive, and nocturnal, saw-whet owls are difficult to study. To better understand their fall migration, the Harris Center established a saw-whet banding station on SuperSanctuary lands in 2022 — the only one of its kind in New Hampshire. Banding is one of the best tools we have for monitoring changes in saw-whet populations and migration patterns over time, and for identifying critical migration routes and overwintering habitat.
For more information on bird research with the Harris Center, please contact Bird Conservation Director Phil Brown at (603) 525-3394 or by email.