Dan Guider, SCA Interpretive Ranger
As an interpretive ranger at Monadnock State Park a big part of my job is hiking up the mountain. Doing this for a whole season may get repetitive at some points but something that always keeps things interesting for me is the wildlife I get to observe here.
You can see lots of different types of wildlife at Monadnock State Park but the most entertaining, in this ranger’s opinion, are the birds. At every point on the mountain, you can see or hear some birds and can almost guarantee that at any time of day, year, or season, you will be able to observe these incredible avian creatures.
Starting from the trailhead and working our way up you will be able to hear more than you can see most likely. During the summer it’s not uncommon to hear Cardinals, Hermit Thrushes, Nuthatches, Chipping Sparrows, and plenty of Red-Eyed Vireos. Bring a pair of binoculars to spot them! They can be found in trees, bushes, and on the ground. The Chipping Sparrows in particular like hanging around the parking lot by the White Dot trailhead so keep your eyes and ears on the lookout.
As you go further up the mountain you will start to hear and see more. Blue Jays, White-Throated Sparrows, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and Eastern Towhees become more prevalent. Along with lots of Cedar Waxwings, especially in early August. Also be on the lookout for the Black and White Warbler, my favorite, as I’ve spotted it around the top of the Red Spot trail and the upper junction.
This season, the Dark-Eyed Junco by far has been the most prominent bird on the mountain. Past the halfway point and up you will hear and see plenty of these oreo-like creatures. Plenty can be seen at upper junction and on the summit.
When on the summit, especially on windy days, keep an eye out for our larger birds like the Common Raven, Turkey Vulture, and Broad Winged Hawk. Turkey Vultures generally hang out in groups and can be seen soaring above the summit. They have a distinct rocking motion when soaring and like to ride the wind. Generally, in groups you can see them seemingly flying in circles and getting higher and higher in elevation. The Ravens love to play in the wind and it is an incredible site to see. They will perform acrobatic stunts purely for the pleasure of it. It may look like some Ravens are fighting each other but this is most likely just two siblings or friends playing. They are one of the few bird species who do things just “for the fun of it”. The Broad-Winged Hawk is not nearly as common to see as the Raven or Turkey Vulture but that just makes it all the more exciting when they appear. I’ve seen them soaring incredibly fast over and around the summit, often getting into altercations with the Ravens, most likely over territory.
There are plenty more birds and wildlife to witness on Grand Monadnock, these are just the few I see and hear almost every day. To see some of the smaller songbirds, check their migration times/patterns to see if they are in the area. The Merlin Bird ID app is a phenomenal resource to use for this. Either way, there is always something to see on the mountain and I highly encourage you to come and see for yourself! Don’t be afraid to stop by and tell me what you see! Just look for the Interpretive Ranger in the powder blue button-down shirt. I always love hearing about wildlife on the mountain. Also, be sure to check out the programs that Ranger Rebecca is doing at Miller State Park as well, there are some hawk watch programs on Pack Monadnock. Happy trails!
Resources for further bird fun: