News

December 18, 2014

2014 Migration Summary

Record peregrines

Another year is in the books and it was an exciting season of record counts and near misses. Counters at Hawk Mountain tallied 17,382 raptors this fall with 17,379 during the official count period, August 15 to December 15. New season records were set for peregrine falcon (88) and turkey vulture (936), and a single-day count of 247 turkey vultures was also a new record. 

Bald and golden eagles were both above average with bald eagles falling a few birds short of a new record, but black vultures and merlins were the only other species with above average counts. Counters also tallied two rough-legged hawks, the first time since 2008 to have more than one.

Seven species fell below their 10-year average: osprey, northern harrier, Cooper's hawk, northern goshawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, and American kestrel.   Unfortunately for harriers and redtails, this continues their  short- and long-term decline. (Peregrine falcon photo by Bill Moses)

In addition to the raptors, counters also recorded 79,240 non-raptor migrants, including 887 butterflies and 411 dragonflies. Some totals included 27,415 Canada geese, 528 snow geese, 1,324 double-crested cormorants, 2,024 barn swallows, 2,414 tree swallows, 5,021 blue jays, 2,947 American crows, and 4,723 pine siskins. 

Some of the notable single-day counts included:

  • 84 tundra swans on November 19
  • 29 common nighthawks on September 1
  • 1,153 barn swallows on August 15
  • 635 pine siskins on October 21

Some notable big flight days included:

  • September 23 when counters tallied six species of woodpeckers, four species of flycatchers, five species of vireo, 11 species of warblers, among them 44 Cape May and 113 black-throated green. 
  • September 27 when 11 species of warblers were counted including a record 72 blackpoll warblers along with 90 ruby-crowned kinglets, and a brown thrasher. (Counter's pit at North Lookout photo boy Phil Cambell)

Migration Summary

2014 Autumn Count

Species Official Count Total Count 10-year Average Peak One-Day  Notes
Black Vulture 198 198 126 33  +
Turkey Vulture 936 936 487 247 **
Osprey 467 467 532 32  -
Bald Eagle 401 403 277 27 +
Northern Harrier 164 164 182 9 -
Sharp-shinned Hawk  4,772 4,772 4,562 375
Coopers Hawk 555 555 677 51
Northern Goshawk 22 22 38 3
Unidentified Accipiter 88 88 63 14
Red-shouldered Hawk   194 194 198 28
Broad-winged Hawk   6,369 6,369 7,685 888 -
Red-tailed Hawk  2,258 2,258 2,708 211 -
Rough-legged Hawk   2 2 3 1  
Swainson’s Hawk             0 0 <1  0           
Unidentified Buteo 46 46 47 6
Golden Eagle 155 155 127 20 +
Unidentified Eagle 2 2 1 1
American Kestrel 378 379 430 49 -
Merlin 189 189 169 19 +
Peregrine Falcon 88 88 55 8 **
Unidentified Falcon 22 22 13 3
Unidentified Raptor  73 73 54 7
Total 17,379 17,382 18,441 975

*includes days in early august
**New Record; - below average; + above-average

Join us for the spring migration count

Some volunteers will continue to count sporadically though January and we will update the Raptor Count page following such days. Do remember that the best days to see migrants are those with strong northwest winds.

If the thought of perching on a lookout in sub-freezing weather doesn’t appeal to you, join us in the spring for our spring migration count starting April 1.

Hawk Mountain Visitor Center and trails are open year-round, and the Visitor Center closes only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day or during inclement winter weather. To learn more, please call 610-756-6961.

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