Winter Raptor Survey (WRS)

The WRS monitors winter raptor populations by conducting roadside surveys in mid-winter (Jan 10 to Feb 8). Participants create their own route in thier area and drive it once and count all of the raptors seen.


WRS Guidelines

1. This being a road survey, THE MOST IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION IS SAFETY. Use a designated driver if possible.

2. Design your own route. But first check with coordinator to avoid overlap of routes (some are not yet mapped).
A min. of 10-20 miles and max. of 100 miles. Minimize miles on busy roads (not easy in some counties).  Avoid non-maintained roads that are un-passable some years.

3. Dates: You choose the day: Jan. 14 - Feb. 12 inclusive. Usually I will extend by a few days – but please try to do within the stated dates so as to keep this a “mid-winter” survey. 

DO YOUR ROUTE JUST ONE TIME. Do not repeat for the sake of “ improving” the numbers –THIS IS CRITICAL!.

4. Time of day:  Mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
5. WAIT FOR GOOD WEATHER: Avoid fog, high windy, heavy rain, snow.

6. Record hours of survey time and miles driven.

7. Note the average approx:
     -time on route (excluding break time) and miles
     -snow depth
     -% cloud cover
     -wind as calm, light, or strong

8. Record the following as possible:

  Harriers: Ad. male or female;  or immature
  Red-tails:  Adult or immature
  Rough-leg: light or dark form
  Kestrel :  male or female

  All other raptors (age BE, RS, GE)
  Vultures (TV or BV)

  Don't linger over birds you can't easily age or sex - just record species.

9. Any shrikes?

10. You may stop at good (and safe) vantage points to get out and scan/scope more thoroughly. But do not go on hikes looking for birds.

11. IMPORTANT !!!  Coordinate with others in your county to avoid route duplication.

12. For consistency sake, I will not accept routes that are primarily on interstate highways or done after Feb 22.

For more information, contact Greg Grove at