Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Monitoring Raptor Migrations

The migration of Broad-winged Hawks is underway across much of the eastern region of North America (photos by Paul Konrad).

It’s that time of the year when Broad-winged Hawks, American Kestrels, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and many other birds of prey are being counted as they migrate south by the hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands daily. Broad-winged Hawk migration has been building across the Upper Midwest during the past week and migrants are funneling down to count sites in Texas already. This year the largest numbers are being counted on the west and east sides of the Detroit River, where it meets the northwest corner of Lake Erie.

The specific count sites are the Detroit River Hawk Watch located in the Metropark on the American side of the river, and the Holiday Beach HawkWatch in neighboring Ontario, Canada. Yesterday at the Metropark, biologists counted 20,929 Broad-winged Hawks, and by the end of Tuesday the September total was 106,609 Broad-wings, along with 3,003 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 785 American Kestrels. On the other side of the border at Holiday Beach hawk counters added 23,246 Broad-wings Tuesday, along with 768 Sharp-shins and 117 American Kestrels!

Other hawkwatch hotspots across the Upper Midwest and Appalachian regions in recent days have been Hawk Ridge at Duluth, Minnesota; Hawk Cliff Hawk Watch in Ontario, Allegheny Front Hawk Watch and Little Gap in Pennsylvania, Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch and Harvey’s Knob in western Virginia, Montclair HawkWatch in New Jersey, Mount Watatic in Massachusetts, and Wachusett Mountain in Maine.

At the south side of their American migration path in Texas, Smith Point HawkWatch on the east side of Galveston Bay near Houston and Corpus Christi HawkWatch are documenting Broad-winged Hawk migration as the Broad-winged Hawks migrating south funnel along the Gulf Coast, headed to Latin America ranging from southern Mexico to northern Boliva. Monday Smith Point counted 17,525 Broad-wings, and Tuesday Corpus Christi tallied 19,414! It’s really exciting to check on daily totals and the variety of raptors seen at varied hawkwatch sites at HawkCount Just click on the name of the hawkwatch site to see the daily variety of raptors observed and the totals counted, and you can check monthly totals for September too, just by clicking on the “Monthly” tab on the left margin of an open hawkwatch webpage; for example: HawkCount

Swainson’s Hawks will soon begin their migration south, which you can monitor as they pass through the Corpus Christi HawkWatch, and funnel south through Veracruz, Mexico and on to Panama and Columbia to their wintering range centered in northern Argentina. Enjoy the raptor migration by tuning into HawkCount