Research Programs

Research Programs

Wildlife Research is one of the three major emphases of the Wildlife Information Center. We gather and disseminate wildlife information through a program of conservation activities, educational activities, and research. All of our research projects are directed by Center officers, and most involve volunteers who donate their time to the various projects. Many of these volunteers are not trained biologists, but ordinary people who can make a real contribution to science with their efforts. Most of these projects involve birds where “citizen scientists” have a long tradition of involvement in scientific research projects. In addition, the Center has initiated an internship program, in which students can gain academic credit or valuable experience through participation in Center projects. Contact the Center for more information on how to become involved with our research projects or internships.

Red-tailed Hawk Migration Study

Beginning in September, 2000, banders from Little Gap Raptor Research Group began color marking Red-tailed Hawks for a study of migration patterns and behavior of individuals of this species. The research project is a joint effort between the Wildlife Information Center, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and Little Gap Raptor Research. We hope to answer a number of questions about Red-tailed Hawk migration including: 1) are early autumn birds migrating, dispersing, or are they local birds moving up and down the ridge; 2) how much affinity do Red-tails have to the Kittatinny during their migration; 3) where do Red-tails we see at Kittatinny watch sites spend the winter; and 4) what is the source of the Red-tails we see along the Kittatinny (where do they breed).

Throughout the autumn of 2000, banders at Little Gap (25 km north of Allentown, PA and 18 km up ridge from our Bake Oven Knob watch site) color marked 90 Red-tailed Hawks. As of 22 December nine sightings have been reported, including only one at Bake Oven Knob. Six of the sightings were from Kittatinny watch sites, one was from a site just north of the Kittatinny, and two were from sites well south of the ridge. Sightings ranged from as much as 400 km (250 miles) to the south and 130 km (80 miles) west of the Little Gap banding station where the birds were marked.

Color marking began again in late August, 2001 and will continue through November. Please take a second look at any Red-tails seen throughout the year as the markings will persist into the spring and perhaps summer of the following year.

Report all sightings to the Wildlife Center at P.O. Box 198, Slatington, PA 18080, 610-760-8889, or at [email protected]. All sightings are very valuable including those with only partial information requested below. Thanks to all who reported sightings.

Please report the following (if known)

  • Your name, address, phone, email
  • Date of sighting
  • Time of day
  • Location of sighting (state, county, locality)
  • Age of bird
  • Dye color
  • Behavior of bird when observed

Bake Oven Knob Autumn Hawk Watch

See the Bake Oven Knob Hawk Count page for information.

Bake Oven Knob Area Winter Bird Survey

This survey is conducted on the third Saturday of January, weather permitting, to identify all the birds found on an auto tour route that roughly forms a rectangle around Bake Oven Knob on the Kittatinny Ridge, or Blue Mountain, in eastern Pennsylvania.

Bake Oven Knob Area Winter Bird Feeder Survey

The Feeder Watch survey is conducted by volunteers who live within approximately a 10 mile radius of Bake Oven Knob. Anyone in that geographic area with one or more bird feeders of any type in their yard, and who can identify the individual species of birds that visit the feeders is invited to participate in the Feeder Watch. Volunteers are asked to spend a few hours throughout a specified day in February observing their feeders and recording any visitors. Feeder watchers will also be asked to record weather data and feeder information.

Lehigh Valley Park Lands Biodiversity Project

This project will eventually lead to a complete biological inventory of all park lands in the Lehigh Valley area of eastern Pennsylvania. The inventories will be carried out by volunteers, at least at the beginning of the project, and we would most likely start by surveying the bird life that is found in each park at various times of the year.

This is a long-term project that we expect to continue for many years and updates will be appropriate long into the future. The results of the project will be published and made available to the park managers and municipalities for their use in managing the parks.

Kittatinny Raptor Corridor Backyard Habitat Project

This project is under construction.

Bake Oven Knob Area Bluebird Nestbox Survey

The Bake Oven Knob Bluebird Project is another long-term wildlife research project conducted by the Wildlife Center. Volunteers are asked to gather information on utilization of bluebird nest boxes and nesting success of bluebirds and other species during the spring and summer. The Center seeks volunteers that will be able to continue the project for a number of years.

Volunteers should have one or more bluebird nest boxes on their property and should live in one of the following municipalities in eastern Pennsylvania: Lynn, Heidelberg, or Washington Townships, Lehigh County; East Penn, Mahoning, Franklin, or western Lower Towamensing Townships, Carbon County; West Penn Township, Schuylkill County; northern Lehigh Township, Northampton County; or the Boroughs of Slatington, Lehighton, Palmerton, Parryville, or Bowmanstown.

Volunteers will be asked to monitor use of their bluebird boxes and report that information to the Wildlife Center. Data collected will include the nesting activity of any bird species using the bluebird boxes, including whether or not the nesting was successful and how many young fledged. Any competitive interactions between bluebirds and other species can be reported as well.