Ready to make a difference for raptors?

And spend some time in the mountains at the same time?

Now’s the time to volunteer with the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, literally by keeping an eye on the sky.

Volunteers are needed through the end of the year to count 12 different raptor species during their migratory season.

The Monroe County facility started the count in August, but more folks are needed to help there.

“We have about 20 people who make trips to the tower to help with out raptor count. Some are local and can make multiple trips. Some come from hours away, and put in a few days when they can,” said volunteer Rodney Davis.

It’s seasonal, interesting work because “different species come through at different times during our count season,” he said.

Birds being counted include bald and golden eagles, broad-winged, red-tailed, red-shouldered, Cooper’s and sharp-skinned hawks.

Falcons being observed are the American kestrel, merlin and peregrine. Northern harrier and osprey round out the list.

Not a raptor expert? No problem.

Volunteers receive instruction on in-flight identification of the species being monitored.

Data is turned into the Hawk Migration Association of North America  (

It gathers data from every watch site in North America.

“They use it to plot population trends and the info is available to anyone who is interested in using it,” Davis adds.

Helpers are not only volunteering for a great cause, and it is done in a historic spot atop Peters Mountain in Jefferson National Forest.

The original observatory was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a fire lookout tower.

A series of structures have been built, and rebuilt on the spot since then.

Many people come here to watch as the raptors migrate south, while others come to the observatory year round for a spectacular view of the mountainous landscape.

And the view is spectacular.

The tower sits at the crest of Peters Mountain, at 3812 feet. The observatory allows visitors to see an estimated 60 miles in a 360° circle.