Twin hawk watches along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Hawks, eagles, falcons, and the occasional California Condor fly past one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
By Jerry Liguori | Published: 8/18/2014
Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 1.2 million acres of the Colorado Plateau and is home to 362 bird species, including California Condor, North America’s largest bird. More than 25 years ago, birders noticed that hawks and other raptors were migrating along the canyon’s South Rim in fall, and in the 1990s, HawkWatch International established official watch sites to tally the movements.
Yaki Point lies just outside Grand Canyon Village; about 13 miles to the southeast, Lipan Point juts into the canyon. Each is a terrific place to watch raptors. The most commonly recorded species are Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-tailed, and Swainson’s Hawks, American Kestrel, Osprey, and Northern Harrier. In addition, you can see Golden and Bald Eagles, falcons, Ferruginous Hawk, and Northern Goshawk. The park’s resident California Condors fly past the sites fairly regularly.
Official counters update raptor-migration tally boards at each site, and they welcome visitors who want to help watch and count. The world-famous scenery of the Grand Canyon can’t be beat — it’s breathtaking. No delight in birding is greater than seeing a Golden Eagle soar over it. — Jerry Liguori
Jerry Liguori is the author of three books and many articles on raptor identification and ecology. He lives in Utah and visits Arizona regularly.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Desert scrub, coniferous forest, riparian corridor, grasslands, and colorful rocky cliffs.
Roads flat. Mobility-impaired visitors may obtain a Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit for access to Yaki Point parking lot, but 500-foot dirt road to the point not wheelchair-accessible. Lipan Point more accessible.
Raptors: Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-tailed, Swainson’s, Broad-winged, and Ferruginous Hawks, American Kestrel, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Golden and Bald Eagles, Peregrine and Prairie Falcons, Merlin, Northern Goshawk, California Condor. Other birds in fall: White-throated Swift, Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, and Rufous Hummingbirds, Acorn and Hairy Woodpeckers, Steller’s and Pinyon Jays, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, Bushtit, Pygmy Nuthatch, Rock, Canyon, and Bewick’s Wrens, bluebirds, vireos, warblers, towhees, sparrows, Black-headed and Evening Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Red Crossbill.
When to go
Daily raptor counts August 27 through November 5; bulk of migration mid-September through mid-October. Late morning to mid-afternoon best.
Visitor centers, camping, lodging, restaurants, and market. Restrooms in visitor centers and at Yaki Point.
National park. Seven-day pass $25 per private vehicle, annual pass $50. Greyhound buses, shuttles, and a passenger train serve park; see website for details.
Bring optics, a camera, plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen. Other than the ground, no seating is provided, so bring a folding chair if you plan to stay.
For more info
13 miles from Grand Canyon Village, just south of South Rim near Grandview Point. Band-tailed Pigeon, Grace’s Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak.
North of Grand Canyon near Marble Canyon, Arizona, on Hwy. 89A. Great for close-up views of condors, especially in winter.