Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County invites visitors to look 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.
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.
In conjunction with the count, international trainee-run spring weekend programs also begin on the first and are held every Saturday and Sunday throughout 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 at hawkmountain.org/weekendprograms.
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, daily counts are posted throughout the season.
“Besides the chance to see soaring hawks, the spring count is a chance to get tips on hawk identification 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, but spring is a great time of year to get outdoors and visit the Mountain.
President Geri Unger expressed her excitement for the upcoming season: "This is my first official count as president of the Sanctuary, and I am looking forward to the warmer weather and the many visitors it brings to the Lookouts, searching the skies for migrants."
Since 2000, International 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 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.
The Silhouette Trail features a display of in-flight, metal silhouettes of seven of Latin America's endangered birds of prey, drawing attention to their conservation status and the factors that threaten them. The silhouettes will remain in place throughout the spring and summer, and a pamphlet describing the raptors and their conservation status are available.
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.For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary website or call 610-756-6961. Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Sanctuary, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, visit them on Flickr, be part of their Google+ Circle and visit their YouTube Channel.