Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County invites visitors to watch for returning raptors and other migrants during its annual Spring Hawk Watch, held daily April 1 through May 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sanctuary’s famous North Lookout.
In conjunction with the count, spring weekend programs begin as well and are held every Saturday and Sunday through the count. The Sanctuary’s signature live raptor program, “Raptors UP Close!” is sponsored by M&T Bank and continues through Memorial Day.
A full schedule of weekend programs and other details can be found online.
During the count, staff, trainees, and volunteers will be stationed at the Lookout to help visitors spot and identify raptors including broad-winged hawks, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and bald eagles.
Migration typically peaks in mid to late April, especially on days with southerly winds and cloud cover, when counts of more than 100 birds may be seen. For raptor enthusiasts and those who cannot make it to Hawk Mountain, counts are posted daily after 6 p.m.
“Besides the chance to see soaring hawks, the spring count is a chance to get tips on hawk identification, practice your wildlife photography, and learn more about the migration of birds in the area,” said Director of Long-term Monitoring Laurie Goodrich who coordinates the count.
The Sanctuary has monitored the spring raptor migration since the 1960s and reports an average 1,063 raptors each season. Numbers are just a fraction of Hawk Mountain’s autumn migration, as the birds are more widely dispersed during their northbound migration.
“You might not see as many hawks as you do during fall, but I love spring at Hawk Mountain. Some people are all about fall foliage, but my favorite view is green. Here, it stretches across the valley as far as you can see," says Mary Linkevich, the Sanctuary's director of communications.
Since 2000, Conservation Science trainees have regulated the daily count at the North Lookout during the second half of the spring migration, using the training of experienced volunteers and staff to learn migration count techniques.
Those who wish to hike to the North Lookout and join in the fun should wear sturdy shoes, carry a bagged lunch, bottled water and other supplies in a daypack, and be prepared to walk nearly one mile 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 Accessible Trail with bench seating.
Trail fees apply for non-members and cost $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Members are admitted free, year-round, and memberships can be purchased online or at the Visitor Center.
The 2,500-acre Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and is open to the public year-round by trail-fee or membership, which in turn supports the nonprofit organization’s raptor conservation mission and local-to-global research, training, and education programs.To learn more about programs, initiatives and other special activities, visit the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary website or call 610-756-6961. Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Sanctuary.