Upcoming Training for New Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch Volunteers

Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch is seeking volunteers to monitor raptor migration on Dinosaur Ridge from March 1 through May 14, 2023 (volunteers can choose the days they volunteer during this window). The Hawk Watch site is on a segment of the Dakota Hogback formation west of Denver. The site is accessed from the Stegosaurus parking lot off Interstate 70 and Jefferson County Route 93. A fairly steep half-mile trail leads from the parking lot to the monitoring site.

Training will be provided by Denver Field Ornithologists (DFO) and a designated counter will be on the ridge every day to provide on-site support and expertise. Everyone is welcome! Volunteer observations are critical for understanding the health of raptor populations and the data collected will help inform conservation efforts. By observing raptors in flight, volunteers have the opportunity to learn from experts and develop their identification skills in the field.

If you are interested, sign up for the Hawk Watch Introductory Meeting on Wednesday, February 22 at 7 PM (MST). This orientation and training session will be conducted via Zoom by David Hill, co-chair of DFO’s Hawk Watch Committee. David will provide essential information on what it means to be a volunteer along with an introduction to raptor identification skills. To register, contact Dave via email at davidhill2357@gmail.com. Dave will send you a link to the Zoom meeting.

An On-Site Orientation for Volunteers will be held on Saturday, February 25 at 9:30 AM (MST). This in-person session will be held at the monitoring site on Dinosaur Ridge and will enable new volunteers to get familiar with the trail up to the ridge and will introduce both new and returning volunteers to this season’s counters who will be up on the ridge to provide ongoing support and training. Register for this session on the Workshops page of the DFO website. Note: all participants must fill out a release of liability form in order to attend this training session. The release of liability form can be found on the DFO website.

Hawks on the Wing: Seeing Beyond the Field Marks with Flight-based Identification is the last of the three training sessions. It will occur on Wednesday, March 1 at 6:30 PM (MST). Josh Haas, a nationally known photographer, videographer, and educator, will join us via Zoom for a webinar that will feature video of hawk species, as well as side-to-side comparisons of hawk species seen on Dinosaur Ridge during spring migration. This session is open to all new and returning volunteers and to anyone else who would like to improve their raptor identification skills. Register for the webinar on the Upcoming Programs page of the DFO website.

Emma Riley, raptor biologists with a degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University, returns this year as the chief hawk counter. She will oversee the daily count Wednesday through Sunday. Aarohi “Ro” Borman, a recent graduate of Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, will perform that same duty on Saturday and Sunday. DFO volunteers Ajit Anthony and Carol Cwiklinski will cover Monday and Tuesday. Multiple sets of eyes are essential in order to collect complete observational data. In addition to spotting and identifying migrating raptors, volunteers introduce passing hikers to birding and to the excitement of seeing birds of prey in flight.

Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch is a collaborative effort between DFO, Hawk Migration Association of North America, Denver Audubon, Jefferson County Open Space, Colorado Field Ornithologists, and Nature’s Educators. Each of these organizations plays a key role in making Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch possible, contributing funding, expertise, leadership, and volunteers to the effort. It is one of dozens of community science counts on raptor migration routes across the country.

For more information about the Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch, visit the Hawk Watch page of the DFO website or email David Hill at davidhill2357@gmail.com. For questions about volunteering, contact Janet Peters at j.f.peters58@gmail.com.