Overlooking the Susquehanna River Valley, this hawk watch is a great spot to see buteos, falcons, eagles, and other birds.
By Charlie Scheim | Published: 8/18/2015
This hawk watch provides a spectacular panoramic view of the Susquehanna River Valley and the surrounding hills of Otsego and Delaware Counties in central New York State. A project of the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, the watch was created more than 25 years ago as a scientific survey of the fall raptor migration.
I especially like to visit Franklin Mountain on warm sunny days in late September, when Sharp-shinned Hawks can pop up over the ridge, and kettles of Broad-winged Hawks may be swirling above. Sometimes, the Broad-wings are so high overhead that they’re invisible to the naked eye; only binoculars reveal their presence.
Brisk days in October and early November can bring large flights of Red-tailed Hawks interspersed with Red-shouldered Hawks and Bald Eagles. In November and December, the mountain is one of the premier sites on the Eastern Flyway for viewing Golden Eagles.
I remember particularly one sunny December morning, when a Golden appeared as just a speck in a spotting scope and approached steadily until it flew so low above me that I could see its yellow feet and talons without binoculars. — Charlie Scheim
Charlie Scheim is a mathematics professor at Hartwick College, in Oneonta. He has been a counter at Franklin Mountain.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Grassy meadow. Sanctuary also includes wetlands, grasslands, and deciduous forests.
A grassy path up a short but steep hill leads to the hawk watch.
Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald and Golden Eagles, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-shouldered, Broad-winged, Red-tailed, and Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Goshawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon. (Seasonal totals posted here.) Large flocks of Canada Goose and Snow Goose, plus American Crow, Common Raven. Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Kingbird, Red- and White-breasted Nuthatches, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Canada, and other warblers, sparrows, buntings, finches.
When to go
Autumn for raptors. Spring through autumn for migrant and nesting songbirds.
Rustic. A few benches and a small hut. Outhouse near barn. Hiking trails. Experienced, friendly volunteer counters present most days, mid-August though January 1. Open house at sanctuary September 26 from 10-2 will feature hawk-ID workshop and live-raptor presentation. Downloadable checklist here.
Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society sanctuary. Open year-round. No fees.
Wear warm clothes, especially after September. Bring binoculars and a spotting scope, though some are available on site.
For more info
Robert V. Riddell State Park
About nine miles from hawk watch off Hwy. 28. More than 1,000 acres of woodlands and fields. Kingfishers, woodpeckers, and Ruffed Grouse.
Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park
About 35 miles from hawk watch off County Rd. 36A. Hardwoods, conifers, and meadowlands on 229 acres.