Monday, February 22, 2010

2010 Spring Hawkwatching Season Begins!

Wildcat Ridge in New Jersey was the first hawkwatch to officially open the spring 2010 hawkwatching season.  Counter Fred Vanderburgh spent four hours on the lookout on February 15.  He didn't see any migrating hawks but saw 2  local Red-tailed Hawks, "a few TV's" and noted 5 visitors in his report to HawkCount.

Three days later on February 18, Fort Smallwood Park in Maryland became the first hawkwatch to post migrants when counter Sue Ricciardi saw two Turkey Vultures in 3.25 hours at her site.  The next day Sue counted 13 migrants--11 Turkey Vultures, a Bald Eagle and a Northern Harrier.

Not to be outdone, Second Mountain in Pennsylvania counted 53 migrants on February 20.  The breakdown was 27 Turkey Vultures, 23 Black Vultures and 3 Red-Tailed Hawks in three hours of counting by Morris Cox. The next day the site also counted a sub-adult Golden Eagle and a Red-shouldered Hawk, among more vultures.

To date, no other sites have joined these three, but it's obviously time to ready the gear for spring hawkwatching!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Celebrate Spring Migration with HMANA's Raptorthon Event

It certainly doesn’t look like spring outside my window and its hard to beleive that spring migration is right around the corner. As raptors prepare to head north, HMANA prepares for our first Spring Raptorthon! Last fall, raptor enthusiasts from across the country helped us launch our first ever Fall Raptorthon event and raised funds that directly supported raptor monitoring programs at HMANA and participating watch sites.
Now we are gearing to celebrate spring raptor migration across the country and we want you to join us. It’s easy and fun.

Still wondering how Raptorthon works? Like Birdathon, Raptorthon is a sponsored Bird Count, but is focused on raptors.
Here’s how it works….
Choose your count options and make it fun. It’s up to you!
(1) Choose any day(s) from 1 March to 15 May. Choose where you’d like to count; your local watch site, your backyard? You may count as an individual or as part of a team. Decide what you would like to count (the number of species you see? all individual raptors? only merlins?)
(2) Register with HMANA (either by mail or online). Assign a percentage of your proceeds to a watch site or other conservation organization. Receive a free Raptorthon t-shirt for you and your teammates when you register!
(3) Find sponsors to pledge support for your Raptorthon, either with a flat rate, for each raptor species you identify, or for your count per species (e.g. $5/bald eagle).
(4) Do your Raptorthon and enjoy yourself!
(5) Report to your sponsors and collect your pledges.
(6) Send pledge money to HMANA.
(7) HMANA will issue receipts to sponsors and distribute the money you assigned to a watchsite or conservation organization.
(8) All results will be presented in HMANA’s Hawk Migration Studies journal.

Why should you participate in HMANA’s Spring Raptorthon?

  • It’s fun and will raise awareness of raptors and hawk watching everywhere!
  • Do you use, HMANA’s on-line hawkwatch information system and data archive? Raptorthon dollars will help to support and improve, as well as the Raptor Population Index and other HMANA services for hawk watchers, including the HMANA Blog and e-newsletter.
  • Dollars raised can help support your local hawkwatch or another non-profit of your choice.
  • Your Raptorthon results will be posted in HMANA’s Hawk Migration Studies journal and on the web to compare across the continent.
  • Your local watch site could see more golden eagles, merlins, etc., in your Raptorthon than any other watch site.

All Spring Raptorthon forms are available at If you would like hard copies of the forms and instructions, or if you have any questions, please contact Julie Tilden at or (781) 264-0778.