The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO) uses long-term volunteer-powered research programs to track the fall migration of raptors through the Marin Headlands. Trainings are offered only once a year in July and early August for participation in either the Hawkwatch or Banding program.
All GGRO volunteers must be able to commit to one regular, full field day in the Marin Headlands every two weeks between mid-August through early December (i.e. every other Tuesday, every other Sunday, etc.). All training is provided. Hawkwatchers must be 18 years old or have an adult guardian hawkwatching with them; banders must be 18.
Volunteer hawkwatchers count migrating hawks as they pass through the Headlands. Hawkwatchers meet in the Headlands at 8:30 and count from 9:30–3:30 on Hawk Hill, then come back to the office for administrative tasks before leaving by 4:30. (Weather permitting; on heavy fog days Hawkwatchers usually wait until 1 pm see if it will clear, or sometimes they end up quitting early after being able to start on time.)
Volunteer banders trap and band raptors and take measurements on each hawk. Trainings and workdays are more rigorous for the banders, so there is a larger commitment. Banders' field days start at 7:45 and sometimes last until the evening, depending on weather and bird activity.
Visit the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory page for more information and details about each of our volunteer research programs.