California Naturalist
California Naturalist
California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

Northern CA PPSR Projects 1

Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

Hawkwatch & Golden Gate Raptor Monitoring

Organization Name
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, National Park Service.
Contact Name
Contact Email
Contact Phone
(415) 331-0730
Other Contact Information
Project Purpose (taken from project materials)

To conduct long-term studies of the seasonal movements of birds of prey along the Pacific Coast, particularly over the Marin Headlands, to further the understanding and preservation of raptor populations. 

Hawkwatch: identify and tally 19 species of birds of prey, so that data from different years can be compared.  The count results help GGRO look for trends and patterns in hawk populations over time.

Banding: answer questions about what raptor populations GGRO is tracking in the count studies – what are their geographical ranges?  Recoveries also give us insight into causes of  raptor injuries and deaths.  Banding hawks gives us a rare opportunity to study them in hand, to check its physical health, weight and condition. 

Radiotelemtry: study daily timing of migration, the hawk’s habitat use, and even the human impacts on migration. 

Participant Activities

Hawkwatchers scan the sky and count migrating hawks from Hawk Hill as they pass through the Headlands. Hawkwatchers meet in the Headlands at about 8:45 and count from 9:30 to 3:30 on Hawk Hill, then come back to the office to do some paperwork before leaving at 4 or 4:30. Hawkwatchers work under the leadership of an experienced dayleader.  Hawks are counted systematically using a repeatable method, called the Quadrant System.

Banders sit in small banding blinds in the hills of the Headlands, trap and band raptors and take measurements on them. Bander field days generally start at 7:45a.m. and last sometimes until the evening, depending on weather and bird activity. 

Radiotelemetrists place a radio tag on a hawk and follow its movements for as long as possible. The season is short, just two weeks in the middle of the migration, but it is intense work, lasting all day every day. 

Data Entry
  • Data Sheets
  • Other
Other Participant Activities
System Studied
  • Birds
Geographic Scope
Marin Headlands and Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Location - Map
Marin Headlands State Park?, California
Time Commitment
  • Other (see Other Information below)
Volunteer Qualifications

Volunteers must be 18 years of age and be able to commit to one regular day every two weeks between mid-August through early December; all training is provided. Volunteer activities take place in the Marin Headlands.

GGRO asks telemetrists to have at least one year’s experience volunteering as a GGRO bander or hawkwatcher before they become telemetrists. 

Volunteer Training

Hawkwatcher trainings occur at the end of June, and in July; the count starts mid-August and goes through the beginning of December. 

Bander trainings and workdays are more rigorous for banders, so there is a bit of a larger commitment. The trainings occur on weeknights and weekends in July and into the beginning of August. 

For Radiotelemetrists, there is also a bit of work and training involved to prepare for the season. 

Recruitment and informational meetings in 2012 will be held:

All three meetings are the same. Please choose one to attend.

These recruitment meetings will be held at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area headquarters, Building 201 at UPPER Fort Mason, in San Francisco. Enter Fort Mason at Franklin and Bay streets. At the stop sign, Building 201 is the large white building on the left with the green roof. Enter at the side door; look for a big GGRO sign.

Cost to Participant
How will the findings be used?

Annual Raptor Report are published online and telemetry tracking is published through a blog. Data is used by Raptor Research Foundation, Hawk Migration Association, North American Banding Council, Western Field Ornithologists, National Audubon Society, American Birding Association, American Ornithologists’ Union, North American Bird-Banding Association, among others.

Other Information

Hawkwatch and Bander season is mid-August through the beginning of December. Radiotelemetrist season is short, just two weeks in the middle of the migration, but it is intense work, lasting all day every day. 

last update:

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check

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