Spring 2023 Migration Hawk Watch Recap

Posted on June 01, 2023 in Science

Turkey Vulture in Flight
Turkey Vulture, photo by Bill Moses

Hawk Mountain’s annual Spring Migration Hawkwatch officially runs from April 1 through May 15. This year’s count was a comfortable 25% above the 10-year average with a total of 1,189 raptors and 14 species noted.

Several raptors including turkey vulture, bald eagle, American kestrel, and red-tailed hawk were spotted in late March, but the first official bird of the spring season was a sharp-shinned hawk counted in the late morning of April 1. This season included some challenging conditions as clear skies and unfavorable wind kept many birds at a distance, but still a notable spring count was witnessed thanks to three flight champions: broad-winged hawks, turkey vultures, and bald eagles.

Wind and overcast conditions during peak broadwing passage worked to keep migrants detectable from the lookout, but still a season-high daily count of 244 migrants occurred on April 21 when 215 broadwings soared by. The counters tallied a total of 605 broadwings this season, a 41% increase above the 10-year average. Turkey vultures are typically one of the earliest migrants with many departing prior to the official count start date, but still 173 were tallied, an impressive 214% increase on the 10-year average. Local and migratory bald eagles were also a reliable view from the lookout with 63 total migrants counted, perching them 50% above their average. Most of our migrant raptors came in on par with their averages, but osprey continue to drop as the 46 individuals counted landed 28% below the 10-year average. Two red-tailed hawks were the last official birds counted, closing out the season on the morning of May 15.

Spring 2023 Raptor Migration Count

Spring 2023 Migration Totals