Winter Raptor Surveys
The Central Valley Winter Raptor Survey was initiated in 2007 by Ed Pandolfino and Zach Smith, who wanted to develop a long-term monitoring effort for studying populations, distributional patterns, and habitat associations of raptors wintering in California’s Central Valley. There are currently 19 survey transects in the Central Valley, but additional transects have expanded the initial area of coverage to include areas outside of the Central Valley itself.
In the winter of 2009/2010 a TINS-coordinated transect was added in Sierra Valley, north of Truckee. We anticipate adding another 1-2 transects in Nevada's Carson Valley in the winter of 2010-2011, which will provide data that can also be shared with the Great Basin Bird Observatory as part of their wintering raptor program for the Great Basin.
Each transect is surveyed once each in December, January, and February. The surveys themselves are fairly casual and straightforward: a systematic drive along the transect by 2-4 people, with ample opportunity to get out of the car and study individual birds, scan fencelines with a scope, and stretch your legs - and you’re never far from the comfort of your car’s heater! It’s also a fantastic opportunity to study raptors in relatively high concentrations and see species that only occur in our region for a few chilly months out of the year.