Meet local raptors and raptor experts Feb 19th & 20th

by Carolyn Chase

hanks to an educational grant to the Iron Mountain Conservancy by the Trust for Public Lands, HawkWatch International founder and migrating bird expert Steve Hoffman will be making two presentations this month in the San Diego County:

Wednesday, February 19 ­ 7pm
Ramona Elem. School Cafeteria
(junction of 8th and F in Ramona)

­ and ­

Thursday, February 20 ­ 7pm
Chula Vista Nature Center
(E St. exit off I-5, turn right into lot)

Steve will also use this as a opportunity to meet with local raptor experts with designs on planning a research and monitoring program in this productive but threatened area.

Steve is also a close personal friend of mine. I was proud to serve on HWI's Board of Directors and have fond memories of rafting on the Rio Grande and hiking up 9,000 feet in the Goshutes to count migrating birds of prey.

I highly recommend you attend this event - and take your kids! You will be able to see local raptors that were saved from accidents, but cannot be released into the wild. The birds include a redtail hawk, great horned owl, kestrel, screech owl and barn owl.

HawkWatch counts

HawkWatch International (HWI) is a non-profit, member-based organization which conducts migratory raptor monitoring and education programs in the Western United States. HWI's mission is to protect birds of prey and the ecosystems that support them for the benefit of raptors, humanity and the earth. The two important facets of their work are the scientific research and environmental education.

HWI field studies are currently maintained at six sites in five western states. Each year, an average of 30,000 raptors of 18 species are observed, with roughly 3,000 captured, banded and released. When banded birds or their bands are encountered again, clues are provided that enable scientists to determine raptor movements, habitat use and factors that threaten or contribute to their survival.

Like most serious environmental problems, the effects may not be noticeable over a year or two, but can be discovered and dealt with if studied over time. HWI has monitored and counted raptor populations for more than fourteen years, maintaining the type of data that is necessary to discover long-term trends in raptor populations and health. For more information about HawkWatch, or join or "Adopt-a-Hawk" please phone (800) 726-HAWK.

Our heritage

This is first in a lecture series entitled "Our Heritage Our Home." Future presentations will include experts on vernal pools, cultural history and tracking local wildlife. Biologist Fred Sproul, local organizer of the event, puts it this way: "I was in denial for ten years after moving here from the green, green Midwest. But then I took a couple of classes and discovered that right here we have the highest number of bird species of any county in he United States! Once you become aware of the incredible resources that are still left here, you love them and realize just how valuable they are. More often than not, when I drive into Ramona I can still see a golden eagle perching on a telephone pole. This is a valuable resource, and we can still do something to save it."

To get to the event at Ramona Elementary School, from Main street in Ramona turn south on 8th St. Go three blocks and look for signs. The building is at the junction of F and 8th.