Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Hawks, Kites, & Vultures Migrating North

Advancing from their wintering range in Argentina, thousands of Swainson’s Hawks have migrated north across South America and are passing through Central America and Mexico, soon to reach the United States (photos by Paul Konrad).
Vast migration flights of Turkey Vultures are underway, some days numbering in the tens of thousands.

Huge migrations of raptors are advancing north out of South America, consisting of Broad-winged Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, and Swallow-tailed Kites along with much larger concentrations of Turkey Vultures. These raptors are being monitored as they pass through migration count sites in Panama, Costa Rica, and south Texas, and at one location, raptors filed northward totaling more than 50,000 per day last Friday. At Bocas Gavilan Ridge in northwest Panama biologists counted 2,444 Swainson’s Hawks, 1,062 Broad-winged Hawks, 57 Swallow-tailed Kites, 22 Ospreys, and a whopping 46,314 Turkey Vultures – and that wasn’t the highest count total that day!

At Keokodi, Costa Rica, Friday’s count was 71,112, including 3,933 Swainson’s Hawks, 1,026 Broad-winged Hawks, 49 Swallow-tailed Kites, 17 Ospreys, 4 Peregrine Falcons, and no less than 66,067 Turkey Vultures!

Some migration flights are even reaching across the Rio Grande in south Texas, where hawk counters at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park tallied 1,113 birds, including 885 Turkey Vultures, 200 Black Vultures, 3 Ospreys, 4 Broad-winged Hawks, and an early Swainson’s Hawk. And far north of the Mexican border, in New York state at Derby Hill Bird Observatory, 101 Turkey Vultures were counted Friday, along with 2 Bald Eagles, 7 Red-tailed Hawks, and a Merlin.

Many other raptor counting sites have initiated spring counts in Panama, Costa Rica, and the United States, with others to follow soon in Mexico and Canada. To check out the daily and monthly tallies reported on the Hawk Migration Association of North America’s (HMANA) Raptor Migration Database, see HawkCount

You can easily review daily reports by clicking on the name of the count site, and you can check monthly totals for raptor species at any of the reporting raptor watch sites by clicking on “Monthly” in the box on the left side of each page. For example, you can view daily totals during the month of March for the Bocas Gavilan Ridge in northwest Panama at HawkCount