Autumn 2022 Migration Wrap Up

Posted on December 21, 2022 in Science

Another fall season has come and gone. December 15 marked the end of Hawk Mountain's official migration count and unfortunately was a wintry wash out. Volunteers and staff spent 1,057 hours across 95 days in the pit scanning the skies and engaging the public through the migration. Although the season ended with rain, sleet and snow canceling the count on the last day, December 14th brought an admirable final flight with eight birds: 2 bald eagles and 6 golden eagles. The last bird of the official count season was a sub-adult golden eagle at 2:36 PM.

Overall, the 2022 migration season was an above average year. The season total 20,327 was 25% above the 10-year average, due to the above average counts of bald eagles (21% above average) and the large number of broad-winged hawks. Sharp-shinned hawks and the three falcon species had average counts, but nine of the 15 species recorded fell below average. Most notable were northern goshawk, 71% below average, osprey, 33% below average, and red-tailed hawk and golden eagle, both 21% below average. Goshawks and osprey were below average at all watchsites in the state, whereas golden eagle and redtail flights were above average at central and western Pennsylvania watchsites but below average at eastern watchsites like ours.

Decreasing temperatures and snow to the north could still send a push of late-season migrants past the lookout, so there's still time to grab your boots and head to North Lookout! Hawk Mountain is open daily, although there is no winter trail maintenance, so use cramp-on boots, walking poles, and carry a daypack.

For a more detailed report of what raptors were seen when, visit our Fall 2022 Dunkadoo page

2022 Autumn Migration Count
Tagged broad-winged hawk migration routes

Big Broadwing Year

It was a big season for broad-winged hawks and the people who make an annual pilgrimage to see big flocks soar over the lookout. The broadwing count was 12,503, the ninth highest count in Hawk Mountain history and included a four-day total of 10,159 broadwings between September 16 and 19. The total broadwing tally was 60 percent above this species' ten-year average.

Tying in with Hawk Mountain research, Director of Conservation Science Dr. Laurie Goodrich was at North Lookout when one of the Sanctuary's tagged broadwings passed overhead. This Broad-winged Hawk Project research team had its largest number of telemetry-tagged birds transmitting during autumn migration. The tagged broadwings are part of the Sanctuary's long-term research on the full life-cycle ecology of this forest nesting species and birds were tagged in four different states and provinces (see map).