Hawk Mountain Coordinates Kittatinny Hawkwatch Project

Posted on September 07, 2023 in Science

Kittatinny Ridge Hawkwatch Sites Map

This fall, for the first time ever, Hawk Mountain received a grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to ensure that all six historical hawk count sites along the Kittatinny Ridge will be manned daily from September 1 to the end of November. This effort involves both volunteer and seasonal counters working together to tally migrants daily with additional support from the PA Game Commission, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, Berks Community Foundation, Lehigh Gap Nature Center, and local birding groups along the Ridge. 

Collecting migration data here is critical, as since the 1990s the Kittatinny Ridge has been recognized as one of the preeminent corridors for North American raptor migration, concentrating more birds than any other corridor in eastern North America, second only to the Atlantic Coast. More recently, Pennsylvania designated the Ridge one of eight Conservation Landscapes in the state, heightening its importance for conservation.

Kittatinny Hawkwatch Site Counters at HMS and 183
Top: Counters training at Hawk Mountain, Bottom: Counters stationed at 183 Hawkwatch

Key goals of the project are to compare raptor species counts across the sites by date and weather, as well as to assess education opportunities and visitor numbers. Preliminary education outreach will use posters modeled after Hawk Mountain’s own visitor education materials. We expect to reveal some surprises in this inaugural Ridge-wide raptor and raptor watchers survey. Feel free to join the counters at one of the sites stretching from Little Gap, in Danielsville, west to Waggoner’s Gap in Carlisle.

Preparing for this effort has involved many steps from identifying counters to holding training workshops and vegetation clearing. One of the sites, the 183 Hawkwatch in Bethel/Summit Station, had been overgrown with non-native shrubs. With approval from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and hard work from Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club members, the visibility has improved greatly. We are hopeful for great flights soon!

For latest counts from the Kittatinny Ridge, log on to hawkcount.org and select one of the sites shown on the map below. All sites are open to the public with directions and maps as well as daily counts easily accessed at hawkcount.org. For directions select Find a HawkWatch, Pennsylvania.

For further information on the project: [email protected]