ANACOSTIA RAPTOR WATCH
Anacostia Raptor Watch is a continuous twenty-nine-year citizen science field study of the predator and prey birds that call the Anacostia River home. Every year we are inspired to witness interest in the natural world explode in youth as they complete meaningful conservation research alongside world-renowned biologists.
Our citizen science monitoring of active eagle nests seeks to document and continue to restore the urban habitat restoration of raptors along the Anacostia while lighting a passion for nature, conservation and lead to careers in conservation.
Between 1995 and 1999 Earth Conservation Corps youth re-introduced 16 juvenile bald eagles to our Nations Capitol. Since then youth have continuously monitored their behavior while creating habitat for birds of prey and other wildlife on the Anacostia. In 2013 two middle school interns from the Field School launched the Anacostia Raptor Watch to connect the broader Washington community to birds of prey in our Nations Capitol.
Live in-person monitoring took place at two eagle nests and three osprey nests on the river. ECC, along with partners including National Geographic, the Metropolitan Police Department, Pepco, and the National Park Service, set up an eagle camera at an active eagle nest on the Police Academy grounds. Liberty and Justice, a mated pair of eagles, called that nest home for almost a decade. Later that spring an osprey camera was placed at a nest at the Fredrick Douglas Bridge. Ornithologist Dr. Richard O. Bierregaard placed a tracking device on a juvenile osprey t as part of his research studying ospreys along the east coast and following their annual migration to South America.
The eagles are indeed back, and we continue to study how they are adapting to the recovering Anacostia Watershed. In the 2021 season, we will monitor nest and feeding sites of bald eagles, ospreys, kestrels, wood ducks, and chimney swifts.
Monitoring is two-fold; it includes both in-person observations and through active web cameras which give the world a bird’s eye view of wildlife on the Anacostia. Observations, videos, will be shared through ECC’s Raptor Watch Blog and social media platforms so you can follow these birds as they live and nest in their urban habitats.
An UNEXPECTED MYSTERY
When you hear “bird of prey” most people visualize the bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, or an owl. Typically, the Kestrel- the smallest American raptor doesn’t get as much attention, but we have seen them virtually disappear- just - as we watched the Bald Eagle and Osprey rebound. Today only two Ketresl pairs still nest in our Nation's capital. Why? We just don't know - yet. But we are joining a nationwide effort to find out because these wonderful falcons are in real danger.
We will collect data for the Peregrine Fund and the American Kestrel Partnership. In the mid-Atlantic and northeast, the kestrel population has declined by 93%. There are lots of questions: Is it climate change? Habitat loss? Land use? We don’t know. One way to learn more is through nest box monitoring.
So we are adding Kestrel to the nest box program. We will monitor the two nests and build kestrel boxes which will provide a safe nest chamber for these raptors which unlike most falcons nest in tree cavities.
Interested in helping a field biologist, developing critical thinking skills, problem-solving, becoming a STEM WARRIOR?
Volunteer for Anacostia Raptor Watch by filling out this form: