11 hawk watches in 10 states to visit this fall, plus one not to miss in spring

8/27/2014 | 0

Ferruginous Hawk in Box Elder County, Utah, by miam.

Ferruginous Hawk in Box Elder County, Utah, by miam.

Watch hawks this fall! Below we’ve assembled some of our favorite articles about some of our favorite hawk watches. You’ll find up-to-date information from local birders, along with maps, directions, bird lists, links, contact information, and detailed descriptions. Each one welcomes visitors.

Arizona

Yaki and Lipan Points, Grand Canyon National Park
Hawks, eagles, falcons, and the occasional California Condor fly past this pair of hawk watches along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Jerry Liguori, the well-known author of three books and many articles on raptor identification and ecology, wrote our profile.

California

Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands
Located on a hilltop just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Hawk Hill hosts the largest known concentration of migrating raptors in the Pacific states: 30,000 sightings of 19 raptor species each fall. Allen Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, wrote our account.

Broad-winged Hawk in northern Wisconsin in April 2013 by sfisher.

Broad-winged Hawk in northern Wisconsin in April 2013 by sfisher.

Delaware

Ashland Nature Center and Hawk Watch, Hockessin
Birders tally 10,000 to 20,000 raptors each fall at this site in northern Delaware. The biggest show happens September 15-25, when hundreds or even thousands of Broad-winged Hawks cruise can past in a day or even a few hours. One day in 2013, more than 7,000 hawks flew by. Joe Sebastiani, coordinator of the hawk watch, wrote our profile.

Florida

Florida Keys Hawk Watch, Curry Hammock State Park
This site, which records the largest number of Peregrine Falcons of any North American count site, tallies an average of 15,000 southbound birds a year, only 21 percent of which reverse course when they find themselves confronted with a significant water crossing at the end of the Keys. How many complete the crossing, as writer Mark Hedden points out in this story, is a mystery.

Minnesota

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Duluth
A 315-acre woodland on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. Tens of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks pass by in September, followed by impressive numbers of Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks in late October, but its claim to fame is the Northern Goshawk. Hawk Ridge hosts the largest concentration of the species in North America. Count interpreter and guide Erik Bruhnke wrote our account.

Montana

Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch, Bozeman
Getting to this lofty ridge requires determination (elevation: 8,520 feet), but it’s worth it, since this is the premier location in the lower 48 states for observing migrating Golden Eagles in autumn. Up to 1,800 have been observed in a season, and more than 500 have been tallied in a day. HawkWatch International founder Steve Hoffman wrote our profile.

New Mexico

Manzano Mountains Hawk Watch
Read what happened when Meg Scherch Peterson, a 58-year-old grandmother, a lone and not very intrepid traveler, and a novice birder, spent a weekend at a windy western hawk watch along the Rocky Mountain migratory flyway. Observers counted 4,248 migrant raptors of 17 species in the season of her visit (fall 2012).

Cooper’s Hawk in Ivins, Utah, in January 2013 by redfish.

Cooper’s Hawk in Ivins, Utah, in January 2013 by redfish.

New York

Chestnut Ridge Hawk Watch, Mt. Kisco
A hawk watch north of New York City that regularly tallies the highest counts of any watch site in New York State. The biggest attraction is the Broad-winged Hawk migration in mid- to late September, but good numbers of Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks come a little later in the season, followed by Red-shouldered Hawks in late October and early November, and Golden Eagles and goshawks from late October through November. Tait Johansson, coordinator of the hawk watch, wrote our account.

Pennsylvania

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton
September sees a procession of Osprey and Bald Eagles. By mid-month, all eyes are trained for Broad-winged Hawks. The peak flight passes between September 12 and 22. Accipiters and falcons take center stage in October, followed by Red-tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles in November and, in December, by Rough-legged Hawks and a second surge of Bald Eagles. Hawk count coordinator Laurie Goodrich wrote our profile.

Texas

Corpus Christi Hawk Watch at Hazel Bazemore Park
Located along the Nueces River in the northwest corner of Corpus Christi, Texas, this site hosts the largest concentration of migrating raptors in the United States or Canada each fall. The average count of 720,000 is more than three and a half times that of the second largest site. And since 30 species of diurnal raptors have been recorded over the years, the site can also be called the most diverse. Joel Simon, the coordinator of the hawk watch, wrote our article.

Smith Point Hawk Watch, Smith Point
No place is better for raptor photography than this hawk watch on the shores of Galveston Bay, not far from Anahuac NWR in southeastern Texas. The birds come in low over the tower and often circle around, giving ample opportunity for photos. Hawk watch coordinator Susan A. Heath wrote our account.

And one not to miss in spring…

Brockway Mountain, Michigan
Read Editor Chuck Hagner’s article about Michigan’s Hawk Mountain, perhaps the best place in the country to watch ­northbound hawks in spring.

Tips from Pete Dunne for identifying hawks in flight.

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See hotspots plotted on a clickable map.