Spring 2021 Migration Wrap-Up

Posted on June 11, 2021 in Science

Northern Harrier in Flight
Northern harrier in flight, photo by Bill Moses.

By David Barber, Senior-Research Biologist

The Spring 2021 Migration Hawk Watch at Hawk Mountain came to a close with the last official migrant—a broad-winged hawk soaring north at 3:52 pm on May 15.  Trainees, staff and volunteers counted 257 hours over 47 days. The high day was April 17 with 72 birds tallied, including 6 osprey, 3 bald eagles, 46 broad-winged hawks, and 6 American kestrels.

Overall, the count total of 613 birds was 36% below the 10-year average. Several species had counts well below their 10-year average, including osprey (27% below average), sharp-shinned hawk (42%), Cooper’s hawks (38%), broad-winged hawk (44%), and red-tailed hawk (50%). However, there were a couple of bright spots: two grassland species that are undergoing declines, northern harrier and American kestrel, had counts 20% and 26% above average, respectively.

Hawk Mountain was not alone, as other watchsites in Pennsylvania also saw below average total counts, as well as below average counts for osprey, sharp-shinned hawks, and broad-winged hawks. However, one low year isn’t cause for alarm, but does stress the importance of collecting long-term data to assess population trends.

Click here to sign up for the Hawk Mountain Newsletter, where we send regular migration count updates during the spring and autumn hawkwatch seasons. 

See below for the full count: 

Spring Migration 2021 Count Chart