Hawk Watch is Underway at White Memorial

Every fall raptors, such as hawks, falcons, and eagles, leave their breeding grounds and migrate south to their wintering homes. During the month of September, White Memorial participates in a program called Hawk Watch, where volunteers observe and count the numbers of raptors that pass a defined location near the Museum. At the end of the month, the data is sent to the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA), which uses the information to calculate population trends and migration schedules.  

White Memorial's most popular Red-tailed Hawk, Veronica.
During the fall, large numbers and a wide diversity of hawks can be seen migrating. Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Osprey, and the Sharp-shinned Hawk are among some of the species that were seen last season flying over White Memorial. Since hawks are usually spotted gliding in the sky, knowing each specie's silhouette is important. Falcons have long, pointed wings with a tapered tail. Accipiters have short, rounded wings with a long tail. Finally, buteos have broad wings with a broad, rounded tail. Within each of these categories you can identify the hawk based on overall size, shape, and markings. For instance, the Broad-winged Hawk is the smallest of the buteos; crow size, with a short, black and white banded tail, and whitish underwings with a dark trailing edge. During an ideal clear day, a group of bird enthusiasts can see hundreds of hawks flying overhead from just one location.

So for the next couple of weeks, keep your eyes on the sky and happy fall migration!

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