Hawk Mountain invites visitors to look for returning raptors and other migrants during its annual Spring Hawk Watch, held daily April 1 through May 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sanctuary’s famous North Lookout.
Trail fees apply for non-members and cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Tickets can be purchased at hawkmountain.ticketleap.com. Members are admitted free, year-round, and memberships can be purchased online or at the Visitor Center.
In conjunction with the count, international trainee-run spring weekend programs also begin on the first and are held every Saturday and Sunday throughout the count. The Sanctuary’s signature live raptor program, “Raptors Up Close!” is sponsored by M&T Bank and continues through Memorial Day, held in Hawk Mountain’s new and completely ADA-accessible Outdoor Amphitheater. A full schedule of weekend programs and other details can be found at hawkmountain.org/weekendprograms.
During the count, staff, trainees, and volunteers will be stationed at the Lookout to help visitors spot and identify raptors, including broad-winged hawks, redtails, ospreys, and bald eagles. Migration typically peaks in mid to late April, especially on days with southerly winds and cloud cover, when counts of more than 100 birds may be seen. For raptor enthusiasts and those who cannot make it to Hawk Mountain, daily counts are posted throughout the season at www.hawkmountain.org/count.
The Sanctuary has monitored the spring raptor migration since the 1960s and reports an average of about a thousand raptors each season. Numbers are just a fraction of Hawk Mountain’s autumn migration, but spring is a great time of year to get outdoors and visit the Mountain, especially after a cold winter stuck inside.
Since 2000, International Conservation Science trainees have regulated the daily count at the North Lookout during the second half of the spring migration, using the training of experienced volunteers and staff to learn migration count techniques. Those who wish to hike to the North Lookout and join in the fun should wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for a walk over rocky terrain. The nearby South Lookout may be preferable to those with small children or with limited mobility and can be reached using a 900-foot-long ADA accessible Silhouette Trail with bench seating.
On April 24, Hawk Mountain will participate in the 2021 Raptorthon, hosted by Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). Dr. Laurie Goodrich and the 2021 conservation science trainees are leading a team at Hawk Mountain with a focus on celebrating history of Hawk Mountain and its training program for young raptor conservationists. The team has set a goal of counting all the raptors and songbirds passing over the Mountain and hope to tally at least nine species of raptors in the day.