Peregrine Falcons over WMF Hawk Watch, 9/30/11

Peregrine Falcon adult in flight

by Jim Burns from

The weather finally improved enough on Friday, 9/30/11, to conduct a hawk watch around the Museum Area between 11:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. Since the winds were out of the southeast, south, and southwest at a sustained 20 m.p.h., conditions were not really good for hawk migration, but 30 members of this group flew over our site, anyway. I wouldn't have bothered to engage in hawk watching/counting this day if it hadn't started with a gorgeous adult Peregrine Falcon flying low over us. It went from north to south without showing any difficulty in dealing with the headwind. Soon after that the first of 8 high-flying migrant Red-tailed Hawks went over. This species doesn't usually migrate until later in October or November, but these birds had to be migrants because of their altitude and their direct flight from northeast to southwest. The rest of this day's migrant raptors consisted of 4 immature Bald Eagles, 6 Ospreys, 5 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 4 Cooper's Hawks, 1 late Broad-winged Hawk, and an immature Peregrine Falcon. We, and the hawks, quit when the sky became overcast. So far this fall's hawk watching hasn't been particularly good at White Memorial because the weather has been unfavorable, and quite often downright awful, for most of the month of September. We've only been able to put in 4 days of effort, which has yielded a grand total of 412 hawks. This breaks down to 354 Broad-winged Hawks, 14 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 9 Bald Eagles, 8 Ospreys, 8 Cooper's Hawks, 8 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Red-shouldered Hawks, 4 Black Vultures, 2 Peregrine Falcons, and 1 N. Harrier. It is amazing that we haven't seen any American Kestrels, yet. We hope to have at least one more day of good hawk watching conditions before their migration season ends. Last year, we counted a total of 905 hawks passing over our site on 15 favorable days, so we don't expect to come anywhere close to that figure, but it would be nice to end this year with a total around 450. If the weather forecasts are correct, we might be in for more movement later this week.

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