Harris Center releases raptors at Pack Monadnock observatory

  • Katrina Fenton from the Harris Center for Conservation Education shows the crowd a rehabilitated hawk. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

  • Kat Lauer releases a hawk back into the wild. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

  • Phil Brown, director of bird conservation at the Harris Center for Conservation Education, releases a rehabilitated hawk back into the wild. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/19/2022 10:56:18 AM
Modified: 9/19/2022 10:55:39 AM

Since 2005, the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock has been observing and collecting data about hawk migrations at the summit of Pack Monadnock. 

According to Bird Conservation Director Phil Brown, staff and volunteers observe an average of 11,210 birds of prey from Sept. 1 to Nov. 20 every year. On Saturday, Sept. 17, hawk-watchers observed more 5,000 soaring over Pack Monadnock in a single day, and the next day, four additional hawks joined the migration after months of rehabilitation. 

Community members, children and avid bird-watchers gathered at the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in Peterborough to witness the 18th annual raptor release hosted by the Harris Center and Wings of the Dawn Wildlife Rehabilitation and Bird Sanctuary in Henniker. With the help of Wings of the Dawn rehabilitation expert Maria Colby, this year’s event featured the release of four rehabilitated hawks from across the state, including red-tailed and broad-winged hawks.

Brown said the raptor release allows community members to interact with wildlife in an unforgettable way.

“I think it will last a lifetime,” said Brown. “It gives them hope and allows people to admire the freedom of the birds.”

For the last 35 years, Colby has been taking care of animals in need, rescuing and restoring the lives of birds and small mammals across New Hampshire. In addition to healing wounds, Colby’s training provides animals the opportunity to hunt live prey while encased. This training tactic prepares the animal to hunt and survive on its own once it is released. 

In her 18th year attending the raptor release, Colby said her hard work consistently pays off in a spectacular way.

“It’s always breathtaking,” said Colby. “The birds are free, finally.”

Among the four birds released, one red-tail hawk had a major comeback thanks to Colby’s efforts. Last July 4 weekend, the Muzzey family from Loudon came across an injured red-tail hawk on the fifth hole of a disc golf course. After reaching out to several rehabilitation centers in the area, the Muzzey family contacted Colby and Wings of the Dawn for help. 

After the bird underwent several months of rehabilitation, Steven Muzzey said the moment of release on Sunday was one his family will never forget.

“That was very special, I’m glad to see it return to the wild,” said Muzzey. 


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