bald eagle

Spring Migration Wrap Up: Breaking Records!

Last day of the count, featuring conservation science trainee Tamara Beal. Photo by Rebekah Smith, education intern. 

Last day of the count, featuring conservation science trainee Tamara Beal. Photo by Rebekah Smith, education intern. 

By Gigi Romano, Communications Specialist
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

The official Spring 2017 Migration Hawk Watch at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has come to a close. With this season, which runs from April 1 to May 15, we saw record numbers and plenty of flourishing wildlife from the lookouts. 

Our counters, volunteers, and trainees have done a respectable job counting all of the passing raptors, a total of 1222 migrants! The spring conservation science trainees have finished their time up at the Lookouts, but they're time has not concluded yet; you can still catch them on the trails willing to share their accrued raptor knowledge.

This spring migration, Hawk Mountain saw a continued trend from the fall: breaking species count records! We saw a new high record amount of bald eagles, 75, and golden eagles, 8. The total tallied broad-winged hawks also tied the past record amount, 642. The highest one-day count was on April 23, when 302 broadwings soared past the lookout. The last raptor of the count was an osprey. 

And with that, another successful spring migration is in the books! Make sure to check out our Dunkadoo profile to see up-to-date visuals of all of the spring count data, and you can see the final count numbers of all of the spring count by visiting our Raptor Count page.

While the official count has ended, the fun atop the Mountain never does! Visit our event calendar at hawkmountain.org/events to see what you attend this summer and fall. We can't wait to see you soon, and the Autumn Hawk Watch will come before we know it. 

 

Raven Games and Eagle Skies

Raven passing by North Lookout by Bill Moses.

Raven passing by North Lookout by Bill Moses.

By Dr. Laurie Goodrich, Director of Long-term Monitoring
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

November 4, 2016

The first morning light illuminated the eastern sky as I arrived to the Lookout soon after 7 am. I had hiked up using a flashlight, thinking the northwest winds might bring some early migrants. A cold front has passed the night before and the wind was gusting more than 15 mph as I began to unpack my pack basket of gear. 

Raven in flight by Bill Moses. 

Raven in flight by Bill Moses. 

Suddenly, I heard a strange guttural clucking sound behind me. Looking toward the north side, I saw four common ravens gliding past just a treetop level, surrounding an adult red-tailed hawk. They were calling and nipping at his feathers as he twisted and turned to escape their unwanted attention/ They reminded me of a city street gang harassing an unwelcome passerby. The raven's call was a new one for me as I am more used to their deep croaking. 

After the hawk escaped behind the Lookout, two of the ravens turned and flew upridge to northeast to "hang out" near Number Three. The other raven pair dove repeatedly at the owl decoy near me, doing midair flaps at times and seeming to compete for who could fly the closest. Soon they tired of that game; they too headed upridge to join the other ravens at their post, calling and dipping in the air, perhaps celebrating their hawk-chasing skill!

Golden eagle in flight. 

Golden eagle in flight. 

After a few redtails ran the raven gauntlet, an adult golden eagle appeared low on north slope just before 8 am, the first eagle of the day! The gang of four ravens circled up in pursuit of their next victim croaking softly. But just as they closed in, the eagle flinched towards them and circled high above his tormentors. The wise ravens faded back to a respectful distance to follow the eagle past the Lookout. They then returned quietly upridge again, thinking of a better game. 

During the next few hours, the northerly winds ushered a steady parade of bald and golden eagles and red-tailed hawks past the Lookout, but most of them rose higher than the ravens and soon the "gang" seemed to tire of their chasing games and let them glide past unmolested. 

An adult bald eagle joined an immature golden eagle at 8:25 am above the north slope, and by late morning four bald and seven golden eagles has been added to the day's tally. In the afternoon, eagle and raven activity lessened with only one more migrant golden eagle counted among the stream of red-tailed and red-shouldered hawk migrants.