Visiting Year-Round

Phenology

January

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco at feeders

  • Winter birds such as Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, and Dark-eyed Juncos seen at feeders all month.
  • First two weeks—last southbound raptors, such as Bald Eagles, pass North Lookout
  • Last week—first Northbound raptors, such as Bald Eagles, pass North Lookout
  • Great Horned Owls set up territories, nest, and lay eggs.

February

Chipmunk

Chipmunks emerge in February

  • Turkey Vultures return to the lookout during the first week.
  • Chipmunks emerge from their winter homes and return to the feeders.
  • Red-tailed Hawks court and begin building nests.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles can be seen flying over Hawk Mountain on their way back north.
  • Warm weather usually brings out the first few Wood and Green Frogs of the season.

March

Spotted Salamander by Kerry Grim

Spotted Salamander, Photo by Kerry Grim

  • Colt’s Foot blooms as the first flower of spring early in the month.
  • Spring Azures, Mourning Cloaks, Eastern Commas and other spring butterflies emerge.
  • Fox Sparrows can be found at the feeders on their way north.
  • Eastern Phoebes return by mid-month and sing around the Visitor Center .
  • Wood Frogs, Spring Peepers, and Spotted Salamanders begin their mating rituals with the first warm rains.

April

Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler photo by Bill Moses

  • Black bears are out and about and young cubs are regularly seen.
  • Bird song is on the increase as Robins set up territories.
  • Barn and Tree Swallows can be seen flying overhead on their return north.
  • Spring raptor migration reaches its peak with the return of Osprey and Broad-winged Hawks during the third week.
  • Ovenbirds, Wood Thrushes, other warblers, tanagers, vireos, and other neotropical migrants return by the end of the month.
  • Spring wildflowers such as May Apples, trillium, violets, and Rue Anemones hit their peak during this month.
  • Spring butterflies such as Dusky-wings and Azures hit their peak.
  • Green Frogs, Pickerel Frogs, and American Toads are vocal as their mating season peaks.
  • The first reptiles such as Black Rat Snakes and Ring-necked Snakes can be found.

May

Lady Slipper

Pink Lady Slipper photo by Jeff Glover

  • Spring warbler migration reaches its peak in the first two weeks.
  • Migrant birds set up territories and begin nesting by the end of the month.
  • Amphibian activity reaches its peak with up to 14 species active on rainy nights.
  • Wild Azalea, Pink Lady Slippers, and Wild Columbine bloom.
  • Many butterflies such as Hobomok Skipper, Indian Skipper, and Northern Cloudy-wing reach their peak.
  • Broad-winged Hawks can be seen building their nests.

June

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel blooms

  • Mountain Laurel blooms across the mountain during the first few weeks.
  • Breeding bird activity peaks and many young are visible by the end of the month.
  • Marbled Salamanders can be seen on rainy nights leaving their wintering areas and moving towards the river.
  • Great Spangled Fritillaries, Banded Hairstreaks, and Red-spotted Purples become common butterflies.
  • Doe deer and their fawns become visible across the sanctuary.

July

Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle photo by Bill Moses

  • Rhododendrons and Milkweed reach full bloom.
  • Butterfly diversity peaks near 4th of July.
  • The first fall migrant birds are found late in the month, and usually the first southbound Bald Eagle is seen from North Lookout.
  • Reptiles are most obvious and easily found sunning themselves early in the morning in boulder openings.

August

Bear sightings pick up in August

Black bear at North Lookout

  • Hawk migration picks up and the official count begins August 15th. 
  • Broad-winged Hawks, Osprey, and Bald Eagles are passing in fair numbers by the end of the month.
  • Other migrant birds such as warblers are seen in small numbers.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds peak in late August.
  • Marbled Salamanders begin their mating rituals at their breeding ponds.
  • Bear sightings begin to pick up.

September

  • Peak numbers of hawks pass North Lookout as kettles of Broad-winged Hawks pass during the 3rd week.  Also Bald Eagles and Osprey peak.
  • Warblers are seen in incredible numbers at dawn at North Lookout during the second and third weeks.
  • Rare butterflies such as Leonard’s Skippers and Silvery Checkerspots can be found.

October

Autumn foliage by Shawn Carey

Autumn foliage at North Lookout. Photo by Shawn Carey

  • Diversity of raptors peaks at north lookout near Columbus Day. 
  • Accipiters and falcons peak in the first two weeks.
  • Warblers still can be found in fair numbers and the first winter residents such as kinglets and juncos are seen.
  • Canada Goose numbers peak.
  • Leaf color peaks by the second half of the month.

November

Golden Eagle by Brian K Wheeler

Golden Eagle photo by Brian K Wheeler

  • Large raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, and Northern Goshawks come through in good numbers.
  • Golden Eagle migration peaks during first two weeks.
  • Summer birds have been almost entirely replaced by winter birds.

December

Redtail by Jeff Shmoyer

Red-tailed Hawk photo by Jeff Schmoyer

  • Hawk migration slows down as only handfuls of Eagles, Goshawks, and Red-tailed Hawks pass the lookout. 
  • The official count ends December 15th.
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