Friday, October 31, 2014

North America’s Largest Predatory Bird Visits Hawk Mountain Nov. 8

Visitors to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, Berks County, will have a guaranteed chance to see North America’s largest predatory bird on “Golden Eagle Saturday,” held November 8 with one-day-only eagle programs at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
This live raptor event coincides with the peak of golden eagle migration at Hawk Mountain. Each golden eagle program is free, but a trail fee applies for those who walk the Sanctuary’s trails.
Courtesy of Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, visitors to the eagle programs will see a live, non-releasable golden eagle in the Sanctuary’s Outdoor Amphitheater. In the event of inclement weather, programs will be held inside the Visitor Center.
This program also will include other raptor species in order to show how adaptations differ among species, and to help explain what sets the golden eagle apart from other raptors.
A solitary and secretive bird, the golden eagle is rare to see throughout the northeast but during autumn, an average 90 are spotted at Hawk Mountain, most during the first two weeks of November. The bird sails by on plank-like wings that stretch more than seven feet and typically migrates alone, heading south on updrafts and thermals along the Kittatinny Ridge or “Blue Mountain.”
Early November also is the best time to see both bald and golden eagles in the air on the same day, another rare opportunity that brings birders and wildlife enthusiasts to Hawk Mountain’s North Lookout for a chance to glimpse the two enormous raptors. In fact, last weekend at Hawk Mountain, the two species were photographed together, in flight.
The golden eagles that do pass, biologists believe, move south from nesting grounds in Quebec and the chilly, northern provinces of Canada.
At this time of year, visitors also can expect to see large numbers of red-tailed hawks, the Sanctuary’s third most numerous migrant, as well as rarer birds of the north, such as the northern goshawk.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a prime observation point for autumn raptor migration because of its location along the easternmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains. Hawks use ridge currents for uplift like glider pilots on long-distance flights.
In addition to birds of prey, hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, songbirds and waterfowl use the Appalachian Mountain Flyway. Some species follow the Appalachians to their end, before heading south to the coastal plains of eastern Mexico and falling out to the tropical forests of Central and South America.
The official Hawk Mountain raptor watch runs from August 15 to December 15. As the world’s first refuge for birds of prey, the Sanctuary boasts the longest-running database of hawk migration in the world.
Visitors during November should wear sturdy shoes, dress in warm, layered clothing, and bring binoculars, something soft to sit upon, and a daypack. The Sanctuary has no trash receptacles and follows a carry in–carry out trash policy. Snack food and water are available for sale in the Visitor Center.
Trails to the lookouts at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary are open daily from dawn to dusk. Weekday trail fees are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children 6-12. Weekend trail fees from September 1 through November 30 cost $8 for adults and seniors, and $4 for children 6-12. Trail fees include a variety of free weekend programs, which continue through November 21.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a non-profit, member-support organization located just seven miles north of I-78 near Hamburg (exit 29B).
For more information on weekend programs or for weather forecasts, interested visitors can call the info line at 610-756-6000. For daily hawk counts, visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s website or call the hawk count line at 610-756-6000x6.

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