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Hawk watching and HMANA

Posted on Mar 2, 2014

Now that we have entered March we are about to hit the beginning of hawk watch season. This year in particular such a statement seems almost absurd considering our weather. On Monday, March 3, we should be seeing nighttime lows plunging to the double digits below zero across Western New York…yet again. The continual arctic intrusion and repeated snowfall events will mean the season will be starting off slowly but birds are beginning to move with a Turkey Vulture or two seen coming up into our area and birds like the Osprey already in multiple locations on the New England Atlantic coast.

Turkey Vulture kettle Boothe Park

Migrant Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura)

I absolutely love hawk watching, correlating and researching it with detailed weather data, adding in passerine counts and even dragonfly movements at watch sites. Until coming to Western New York last summer I was a hawk watch coordinator at an autumn site that local friends and I created in Connecticut at Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford. You can find a wealth of resources on the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) website and Boothe Memorial Park’s raptor information, data and history here. We set some fall northeast flight records at our shockingly successful location situated between the infamous Quaker Ridge in Greenwich and Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven thanks to the efforts of some talented and dedicated birders.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Stratford-001

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

With that love of mine in mind I wanted to invite all of our friends in the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region to visit, enjoy and assist in hawk watching efforts at the Ripley Hawk Watch in Ripley, New York as well as Braddock Bay’s hawk watch at the legendary migratory hot spot to the northwest of Rochester, New York. Our friend Luke Tiller is going to be resuming his duties at Braddock Bay and we will be in close communication with both sites with trips planned in all directions. Be sure to check out the HMANA 40th Anniversary Conference on April 25-27 in Rochester and attend if you can. I am looking forward to spending some time at Ripley this spring when I can find a few precious open moments during an exciting and intense season.

If you have never made a trip to enjoy hawk watching please do it, I beg you! You will become addicted quickly and watching the weather and winds every single day in hopes of seeing thousands of powerful raptors soaring past you in mere hours. There is nothing else like it in the birding world.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch