Hawk Watch

The late Morley at Grandfather Mountain.

Hawk watch is an annual event that takes place during the months of August (late) through October (early) with the peak in mid September. Grandfather Mountain is one of the best locations to view the birds heading south from Canada and the eastern seaboard and joins 275 other locations that are officially designated by the Hawk Migration Association of North America. Visit this link for more information: GFM Hawk Watch

I have enjoyed several hawk watches during September. I know my numbers do not count because I am not official, but it has been fun and informative. Grandfather Mountain has been the official number counter for the migration of kestrels, hawks, eagles, falcons, harriers, merlins, etc. You can view the official numbers at Hawk Count.

There seems to be more broad-winged hawks flying by this location than any other birds, but you can get a good idea of what the spotters are seeing as the migration continues. Eagle soar very high and are hard to spot in the blue sky. When a kettle forms you can see up to a hundred birds catching the thermals and gathering for the next segment of their journey.

Most of the spotters are on Linville Peak but I took a hike up to MacRae Peak to get a bit closer. I observed what I think to be two sharp-shinned hawks, a bald eagle and several Broad-shouldered hawks while on Linville Peak during one of these events. Once you get the idea what you are looking for it becomes a bit easier.

Once again, with the sky so blue and a few clouds in the sky, it was real hard to spot the birds as they traveled south. They looked like specs in the blue, but the white clouds help locate them so use that to your advantage should you join a watch. I often relied on the expert spotters with their binoculars to point me in the right direction so I could see them and get a picture.

Check the one of the links above if you are interested or just search the web for a location in your area and be a part of the migration.

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