Spring Migration Hawk Watch Begins April 1

Posted on March 16, 2023 in Visitors

A Beautiful Day at North Lookout Brings Plenty of Visitors

Hawk Mountain invites visitors to the Mountain for the annual spring migration watch and weekend programs. Beginner and expert birders are welcome to join the official counter looking for returning raptors and other spring migrants from April 1 through May 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the Sanctuary’s beautiful North Lookout.

Trail fees apply for non-members and cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Tickets can be purchased at hawkmountain.ticketleap.com. Members are admitted free, year-round, and memberships can be purchased online or at the Visitor Center.

During the count, staff, trainees, and volunteers will be perched at the Lookouts to help visitors learn about and identify raptors, including broad-winged hawks, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, bald eagles, and more. The Sanctuary has monitored the spring raptor migration since the 1960s and reports an average of about 1,000 raptors each 45-day season. Usual one-day peak counts can reach more than 100 birds in mid to late April, especially on days with southerly winds and cloud cover. Click here to learn more about the migration timing of individual raptor species. For raptor enthusiasts and those who cannot make it to Hawk Mountain, daily counts are posted throughout the season at hawkmountain.org/count

Those who wish to hike to the North Lookout and enjoy the view and migrating raptors should wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for a walk over rocky terrain. The nearby South Lookout may be preferable to those with small children or with limited mobility, and can be reached using a 900-foot-long ADA accessible Silhouette Trail with bench seating. 

Since 2000, International Conservation Science trainees have assisted in conducting the daily count at the North Lookout, learning migration count techniques from the Sanctuary’s experienced volunteers and staff. You can meet these trainees as they monitor the migration and host several of the weekend programs. 

Weekend Programs


While visiting the Sanctuary for migration, visitors are welcome to join the spring weekend programs, which also begin on the first and are held every Saturday and Sunday throughout the count. Hawk Mountain's signature live raptor program Raptors Up Close! will continue through until Memorial Day, May 29th. The program is sponsored by M&T Bank and is held in the ADA-accessible outdoor Amphitheater. The Name That Raptor program, also hosted at the Amphitheater, teaches birders identifying traits such as species' silhouettes, behavior, and markings. Visitors can also learn about the piece of history their feet are planted on, traveling back in time to the Sanctuary's founding in 1934 through the History of Hawk Mountain program. International trainees studying long-distance migratory patterns offer discussions of their work and allow hands-on sampling of the tools used in the field during the Trapping & Tracking program, held within the Visitor Center by the birdfeeder windows. More information about the programs and when they are held can be found at hawkmountain.org/weekendprograms