The site has great weather compared to others, and you’ll still get to see a large variety of migrating raptors flying right over your head — from Sharp-shinned Hawks to Golden Eagles. Annual counts typically range from 5,000 to 7,000 migrants of up to 18 species. You might even be lucky enough to see a late-season Rough-legged Hawk. My favorite part about the Manzanos is the resident Zone-tailed Hawks — a species we don’t see very often at hawk watches in the West. Because they’re local, when they’re around, you often get great looks as they fly back and forth through the mountains.
And be sure to chat with the crew! A group of five biologists lives on site each year, and they love having visitors and sharing their knowledge with others.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Hike 0.7 miles along a moderate trail with a few rocky sections and a slight elevation gain. Site is not wheelchair-accessible, but migrants can still be seen by car if you park along the road up to the site.
Osprey, Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Swainson’s, and Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin. Non-raptors: Sandhill Crane, corvids, nuthatches, warblers, juncos, swallows, woodpeckers. Rarities: Variable Hawk, dark-morph Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-eyed Junco.
When to go
Hawk watch operates daily from 9-5, August 27 through November 5. Last week of September through first week of October for the most variety of birds and largest numbers. For eagles, come a bit later in the season.
Daily counts can be found at www.hawkcount.org/siteinfo.php?rsite=596. The crew operates blinds for banding operations, but these are not open to the public. Nearby Forest Service campground has toilet facilities.
Located on public land within Cibola National Forest. From Hwy. 55 in Manzano, take Cty. Rd. B066 for 9 miles up to the Capilla Peak Campground. The trailhead to reach the observation area is on the west side of the road at Capilla Peak. Hawk watch operates daily from 9-5, August 27 through November 5.
Dress in layers; the weather can vary greatly at this altitude. Bring sunscreen, binoculars, field guide, and a camera.
For more info
Manzano Mountains HawkWatch
Friends of Manzanos Facebook Group