The largest concentration of migrating raptors in the United States or Canada occurs each fall at the Corpus Christi Hawk Watch. In 1997, HawkWatch International began full-season counts at Hazel Bazemore County Park, which sits on the southern bank of a horseshoe bend of the Nueces River. An astounding 1,030,849 hawks flew overhead in 2004, and over the last 10 years, the site has averaged more than 525,500 birds annually.
The passage of Broad-winged Hawks, which peaks in late September, is amazing. Tens of thousands can be seen in a single day. The hawks appear in the distance, circling in kettles, and then glide past in a mass of rows.
The dark-morph Broad-wing is uncommon anywhere in the U.S. and highly sought by birders; as many as 184 dark morphs have been seen here in a day. The hawk watch tallies the largest groups of migrating Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites in North America each August, as well as a significant Swainson’s Hawk flight from late September through early October. Passerines are common in nearby woods. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, for example, is visible from the hawk-watch platform throughout much of the season. — Jerry Liguori and Dane Ferrell
Jerry Liguori is the author of three books on raptor identification. He also wrote about Yaki and Lipan Points in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Hotspot Near You No. 196, Chelan Ridge Hawk Watch in Pateros, Washington, No. 220, and Bonney Butte Hawk Watch in Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon, No. 243. Dane Ferrell is a long-time hawk counter at the Corpus Christi Hawk Watch.