Now's the time to look for migrating hawks, falcons, and eagles
Southbound birds are easy to find and thrilling to watch. Birder's World magazine editors can provide tips on how to watch this spectacle.
September 2, 2008
WAUKESHA, Wisc. — One of North America's greatest wildlife spectacles — the fall migration of hawks, falcons, and other birds of prey — is underway now, and anyone can witness it.
An adult Bald Eagle is unmistakable. It has a white head and tail and dark brown body. It migrates along mountain ridges and other inland areas, circling on warm air currents and gliding on its broad wings. Good places to see it include Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania and Hawk Ridge in Minnesota. Download a high-resolution version
of this image.
Photo by HawkWatch International
Birder's World magazine editors are available to explain how to observe this spectacle. To request an interview, please contact Matt Quandt at 262.798.6484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The big birds are making their annual journey from breeding grounds across the United States and Canada to wintering areas as distant as South America. They travel during the daytime, conserving their energy by coasting atop rising currents of warm air called thermals, and they often gather at watch sites in great numbers.
"Few experiences can top the sight of hundreds or thousands of hawks streaming by overhead," said Chuck Hagner, editor of Birder's World magazine. "Once you get your first glimpse of these beautiful birds in flight, you'll want to come back the next day and the day after that."
Organized hawk watches, staffed primarily by volunteer counters, exist in most states and provinces. Check hawkcount.org or with your local Audubon chapter to find a watch site close to you. Five of the best sites in the country are:
Corpus Christi, Texas
Hazel Bazemore County Park
This is the location of the largest concentration of migrating raptors in the United States or Canada each fall. An average of 720,000 birds fills the skies between August 15 and November 15. The October 2008 issue of Birder's World contains a profile ("Kettle as big as Texas") on this location. To request a copy of the magazine or a PDF of the article, contact Matt Quandt at 262.798.6484 or email@example.com.
Watch videos of the Corpus Christi hawk watch.
Eastern Pennsylvania, near Kempton
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Modern-day hawk watching got its start in the 1930s at this scenic rocky overlook on the Appalachian Flyway. An average of 20,000 raptors wing past annually, most of them flying at eye level or below.
Eagles, hawks, and kestrels moving around the western edge of Lake Superior sometimes pass this well-known hawk watch in mind-boggling numbers. Counters tally an average of 94,000 migrating raptors each year, and more than 102,000 were reported on a single day in 2003.
Florida Keys Hawk Watch
More than 20,000 raptors fly over the watch site at Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys each year, making it the place to go to see Peregrine Falcons. More are counted here — 1,790 on average — than at any North American count site. The October 2008 issue of Birder's World contains a profile ("Florida's raptor highway") on this location. To request a copy of the magazine or a PDF of the article, contact Matt Quandt at 262.798.6484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Francisco, California
Golden Gate Raptor Observatory
More than 29,000 birds are counted here each fall, including large numbers of Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks, and the location couldn't be more beautiful — just north of the Golden Gate Bridge within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.