August 2020

Hawk Watch Reports

The 2020 Spring Hawk Watch "season" was winding down on June 12, with a single Red-tailed Hawk reported from Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch in Michigan at 11AM, flight direction listed as unknown. Brockway is one of over 200 raptor migration monitoring sites included in the massive Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) HawkCount[1] database. And that isn't all of the monitoring and reporting efforts! The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO), for example, has over 35 years of continuous records of the thousands of birds of prey that annually pass over Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands in California. GGRO maintains its own separate archives and posts daily count data[2] on Facebook and Twitter during migration season.

Another important hawk watch network which is not part of HMANA is composed of the 9 observation sites directly maintained by Hawk Watch International[3] (HWI), as well as 4 locations now operated by partner organizations. Although the current pandemic has required the suspension of counts at remote installations where participant distancing is not feasible, the remaining migration sites are still active. Results from the 2019 observations are available in an HWI public Network Report[4] on DropBox.

For both seasonal and real-time reports of the vast data which are reported to it, HMANA provides a Sites Map[5] offering both graphics-based and pull-down menu links to pages for all active and inactive sites in its network. The previously mentioned Brockway Mountain[6] Site Profile page, for example, offers links to current sightings, historical archives, and seasonal charts for each species observed.

All this information is further analyzed by the Raptor Population Index[7] (RPI) Project, which additionally includes HWI, the independent Hawk Mountain Sanctuary[8] database, and information generated by Bird Studies Canada. Although the most recent report available on the RPI website at the time of this review is from 2016 data, the HMANA Hawk Migration Studies[9] (a Favorite) publications are issued twice annually, with the Fall 2019 report expected in September 2020. Previous editions are free online!

While most individual hawk watching organizations and locations also have their own websites and provide current data, many use an analytic service called Dunkadoo, which offers an amazing array of visual tools as shown in their presentations of the Spring 2020 data from the Braddock Bay Raptor Research[10] research center in New York and Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch[11] in Michigan. It's easy for some of us to get lost in the wealth of vicarious birding available. No need for a Covid-19 Supplement this month, when there are hawks to soar with over the entire continent!