Winter Raptor Research Updates From the Field – Season Wrap Up

by Jim Armbruster – Research Coordinator

With spring in full swing we have officially wrapped up our winter raptor field season. Both Middlebury and Goodrich have been reliably checking in and sending location data for us to analyze. So far each bird has revealed drastically different movement patterns. 

Middlebury seems to be a true migrant. As he is a Northern subspecies, we would expect him to travel to Vermont for the winter and then return north to Canada in the spring to breed. This appeared to be the case when he crossed the border into New York on March 25th and flew about 30 miles north by the end of the day. From there he began to meander north making a stop at the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area along the way. He then flew another 30 miles north to Kings Bay Wildlife Management area and was within three miles of the US-Canada border on March 30th. He then abruptly changed course and headed back south and ended up back in the Ausable Management Area where he is as of today. It is unclear what caused him to stay in New York and if he will stay there for the summer. As long as he continues sending locations we can continue to follow his journey and see where he may end up. It will be interesting to see if he comes back to Vermont this summer or next winter. 

Goodrich on the other hand appears to be a year round resident. His territory appears to be firmly established and has not changed at all. He was even noted perching on the same tree he was first encountered on several times throughout the winter during subsequent survey days. His longest trip away was about a mile south to another field and then quickly back to his favorite patch of woods. His patterns may change throughout the summer and may reveal that he is nesting in the area. Several other red-tails were observed in the same area and may be his mate. Future surveys might determine the location of a nest. 

Map of Goodrich’s Winter Home Range

We will continue to post updates on our birds throughout the summer!

Jenna Schlener, Research Intern, holds “Goodrich” before he is equipped with a GPS backpack
Bryce Robinson, Researcher on the Red-tailed Hawk Project, demonstrates a flight test to ensure proper backpack fit on “Goodrich”.
Anna Morris, Lead Environmental Educator, holds a Red-tailed Hawk “Weybridge” before a color band is equipped
Kim Holland, Environmental Educator, prepares to release a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Leave a Comment