Spring 2022 Migration HawkWatch Recap

Posted on June 01, 2022 in Science

Turkey Vulture in Flight by Bill Moses

Each year the Spring Migration Hawkwatch officially runs from April 1 through May 15. This year's count included species tallies from several days in March as well. Overall, the count was 17% above the 10-year average with a total of 1,105 raptors and 13 species noted. This is also the 7th highest spring count in Sanctuary history. 

Turkey vultures kicked off the spring count per usual and was the first official bird of the season. Both turkey vultures and broad-winged hawks had a strong showing, being 85% and 58% above average, respectively. The broadwing total of 680 is the second-highest spring count for the species. 

Migration slowed in the third week of April, but light winds on Earth Day welcomed the best accipiter flight of the season with season high counts for sharpshins and Cooper's hawks. Later that weekend, the count saw its peak on April 24, with 366 raptors tallied, including 12 black vultures, 3 ospreys, 4 bald eagles, 6 sharp-shinned hawks, 336 broad-winged hawks (their one-day peak), a red-tailed hawk, and an American kestrel. Flights died down after that peak, and the season came to an end with two broad-winged hawks closing out the official count late on May 15. 

Despite an overall above-average count and high counts for a couple of species, several species had counts well below their 10-year average: osprey, northern harrier, Cooper's hawk, and red-tailed hawk. The numbers for northern harriers and Cooper's hawks were the lowest spring counts recorded at Hawk Mountain. Similar trends were seen at other watchsites in Pennsylvania, and unfortunately, these low counts for specific species are a continuation of the declines seen in Pennsylvania over the last 20-30 years. The exact causes of these declines are still unknown; however, conducting long-term counts at watchsites remains vital for monitoring the populations of these raptors so informed conservation decisions can be made. 

Spring 2022 Trainee at South Lookout
Thank you to this season's counters:

Conservation Science Trainees: Matthew Bowers, Catherine Boyle, Diego Gallego Garcia, Julia Runkle, Paula Orozco Valor, Marzia Verduci
Education Trainees: Pamela Carvajal, Tamara Russo
Staff: David Barber, Bracken Brown, Laurie Goodrich, Sean Grace, Rebecca McCabe, Jean-FranÒ«ois Therrien
Volunteers: Caroline Fegley, Rob Feldman, Jon Levin, Scott Morrison, Matt Wlasniewski

Spring 2022 Migration Count