Colorado State parks volunteers monitor raptor activity year-round
monitoring provides useful tools to assist land managers in stewardship and
Why it matters
Raptors are keystone predators, which is an animal
without which the ecosystem would fail.
Raptors are carnivores, and their food
base is comprised of fish and mammals, and reptiles. If there is a lack or
decline in raptor population, one of the reasons is often lack of prey species. Therefore, these top-level carnivores provide insight into populations of small animals
within the Park.
Some raptors have specific breeding and nesting needs
that can indicate something about the functioning of the larger system. Bald
Eagles and Northern Harriers are two good examples of how we can learn about
pieces of the ecosystem puzzle, and whether certain areas of the Park may be
experiencing excess disturbance.
The functioning of the Park ecosystem is dependent on
raptors. By monitoring the presence of birds and nests, we gain a clearer picture of the overall functioning of the system. From there, we can formulate suggestions about
how to promote healthy system functioning.
Besides these invaluable
benefits, raptors are amazing, charismatic creatures that are relatively easy and a
whole lot of fun to monitor! It’s a great way to learn about the ecosystem and
get volunteers involved in public land stewardship and management.