It’s that time of year again; it’s hawk watching season. Here on Nemesis Bird, fall is one of our favorite times of the year. Drew has spent several seasons recording raptor migration at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Montclair Hawk Watch and Alex is basically obsessed with raptors. In Alex’s opinion, there is no better bird watching then when birding from a hawk watch, not knowing which awesome raptor may shoot by next, while also taking note of all the other avian migrants.
2011 Monthly updates
This year will be the second fall in a row that we would like to keep track of hawk migration past Jo Hays Vista. Jo Hays Vista is located on the border of Centre and Huntingdon Counties, about a half mile up the ridge from the Tussey Mountain Hawk Watch. The Tussey Mountain Hawk Watch is the premier spring location to see migrating Golden Eagles in PA and has conducted full-time spring counts since 2001 and part-time counts as far back as 1995. Jo Hays Vista offers a beautiful view overlooking State College and provides an excellent mostly clear view to the north and east, helpful for seeing the southbound fall migrants. If the winds are right, it is possible to get up-close views of many diurnal raptors.
What to expect
Last year, with only a handful of us going up every once in a while, we logged 85.5 hours of observation and recorded 1,310 raptors (link). This number includes 42 Bald and 30 Golden Eagles. Much of our time at the Jo Hays was in the middle to end of the season so we missed a majority of the accipiters and Broad-winged Hawks.
For this fall we need your help. We would like to increase coverage at Jo Hays Vista throughout the entire fall season (August-December). Just like last year, we would like to keep this an informal and fun migration count, no pressure and pure fun!
Whenever you visit Jo Hays Vista this fall (even if you don’t see any raptors migrant past), just record a couple of things and pass them on to us so Alex can enter them on the HMANA website.
Basic and necessary info:
- Observation start and end time
- Observer’s names
- Number and species of raptor (by hour if possible!)
Additional information that adds value to the data:
- General weather info for each hour
- wind direction, approx. speed, % clouds, temperature, precipitation, visibility
- Specific age and gender data such as:
- Bald Eagle and Golden eagle ages
- Northern Harrier gender
- Any other age/sex info you can gather on the raptors
- Non-raptor migrants (waterfowl, warblers, etc)
- Any other notes you may have
We have created a form that you can can print out and use. Download form
We hope to enter all the data into HawkCount! in a timely manner. There are several ways you can get the data to Alex who has access to the HawkCount! account.
- Email to Alex (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Scan form and send it to Alex at above email address
- Post the information on the State College Bird Club Listserv.
If you have any questions, please let us know. Tussey Mountain is a crucial migration corridor for not only raptor migrants, but all bird migrants, and collecting this data in the fall at Jo Hays Vista is extremely important for bird conservation. We urge any local PA birders that visit Jo Hays this fall to please, send us your hawk count information!