Thursday, December 23, 2010

HawkCount's New Generation

Daena Ford, Co-Director at Braddock Bay Research and a member of HMANA’s Board, sent the following interesting testimony about HawkCount ( to her fellow board members. It was a lot more interesting than the posting I was about to make, so here’s Daena:

Yesterday my son (he’s 6 1/2) was doing his daily reading homework, and chose a book from my collection of wildlife kids’ books, Madeleine Dunphy’s The Peregrine’s Journey: A Story of Migration. It’s a great book that beautifully tells the story of how one peregrine makes its long migration from Alaska to Argentina.

While he was reading it out loud to me he was marveling at some of the distances the falcon flew and the variety of places it stopped along the way. At one point the bird travels through Panama with flocks of Swainson’s and Broad-winged hawks. The story mentioned at that point that sometimes tens of thousands of hawks travel through there. Well, this really got his attention, so after he was done with the book, I brought him over to the computer and we pulled up the HawkCount site.

This was not the first time I’ve showed him HawkCount. In the spring, he follows the Braddock Bay count with me (of course!) and he enjoys looking at the tallies on the spreadsheet for each species, etc. Yesterday I showed him the counts from the site in Panama, and he was blown away! And then of course I had to show him the counts from Veracruz...yep, even more jaw-dropping to him.

Besides just using the spread sheets to find out how many hawks were counted at a certain place, I have found it to be a useful tool to help him with simple math concepts such as place value of numbers and looking at which was the greatest number or lowest number, etc. It also helps him learn how to read a chart. Another thing we did was we looked at the Google maps of the locations of the sites, which brought a little geography to the lesson.

So, I felt like sharing this to show how HawkCount can be used as an educational tool for all ages, even if you are not a hawkwatcher. Not sure if anyone knows of any other experiences like this from teachers, parents, kids, etc. If so, I would love to hear about them.

Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

World Working Group on Birds of Prey Digitizes Its Raptor Publications

Robin Chancellor, the Hon. Secretary Secretary and Treasurer of the World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls (WWGBP) for decades passed away on October 27, 2010. He was a leading figure in the publication of several huge Proceedings of WWGBP conferences and workshops since 1975. In his honor, the WWGBP has begun to digitize those proceedings for free distribution in PDF form. The first two volumes are now available at

Only a few of the papers are specifically on North American raptors, but a number of papers may be of interest to hawk watchers with a broad interest in raptors. Each paper can be downloaded separately.

WWGBP: Berlin, London & Paris
ISBN 0254-6388, 302 pp.

A collection of twenty-eight new and original studies by 41 authors from 20 countries world-wide on birds of prey and owls covering a wide range of topics concerning the biology, ecology, status and conservation of these birds. Contributions include: Trends, Status and management of the White-tailed Sea Eagle, Distribution and Status of the Cinereous Vulture, Evaluation of some Breeding Parameters in a population of Eagle Owls, Status and Biology of the Bearded Vulture, Replacement of Mates in a Persecuted Population of Goshawks, Status and Distribution of Diurnal Raptors in Japan, the Migration of Birds of Prey and Storks in the Straits of Messina. This volume comprises 302 pages (size 14.5 x 21 cm, with cover in colour, many black&white photographs, stitched).

WWGBP: Berlin, London & Paris
ISBN 3-9801961-1-9, 549 pp.

This latest Meyburg and Chancellor production for World Working Group on Birds of Prey (WWGBP) is a substantial volume incorporating over 60 papers and running to 550 pages. It is the product of three separate workshops or colloquia covering a range of eagle species and held during 1991-1993. There is a heavy emphasis on the White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla and on various of the Aquila eagles. The great majority of the papers have a European focus, most are in English, but around a quarter are in German.

The papers are inevitably of variable quality, but taken together, they provide a valuable compilation of material that will be of interest to eagle enthusiasts generally. The subject emphasis tends to be on status, conservation issues in various countries and various management techniques and actions. There are individual papers on subjects as diverse as molecular phylogeny of European Aquila eagles, satellite tracking of long-range migrant eagles and effects of precipitation on breeding success of Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos in Israel.

Particularly welcome are the numerous contributions from eastern European countries where there is clearly an important emerging interest in the large eagles, notably the various sympatric Aquila species of that region. The several short papers on the poorly known Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga and Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca heliaca offer potentially new material for most readers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Florida in February!

Would you like to get away this winter for a sub-tropical birding adventure and a little sun? Join us for HMANA’s South Florida Winter Raptor and Birding Tour! Tour dates are February 5-12, 2011 and the price is $1900 for HMANA members, $1950 for nonmembers. I will be the tour leader for this adventure along with help from my husband and bird guide, Phil Brown.

HMANA’s recent Costa Rica tour during fall migration was a grand success so we are happy to offer another exciting getaway. This time, we will focus on both raptors as well as all the Florida specialties such as roseate spoonbill, purple gallinule, Florida scrub-jay, and wood stork. Other target species for the trip include snail kite, crested caracara, short-tailed hawk, burrowing owl, white-tailed kite, red-cockaded woodpecker, limpkin, scissor-tailed flycatcher, painted bunting and anhinga, as well as reptiles like American Alligator and Crocodiles.

The tour will visit all the south Florida hotspots like Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Sanibel Island and the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the STA-5 vicinity. We will be making a loop through southern Florida, giving us six full days to explore the various natural communities like mangrove forests, cypress swamp, freshwater wetlands, sawgrass prairies, dry prairies, scrub oak forests, mahogany hammocks, pine forests, and open water.

This trip is geared toward all levels of birders so whether you’re just starting out or have been birding in Florida before, I think you will enjoy it. It’s also an excellent opportunity for photographers.

We hope you can join us! For more information, please contact me at More tour details coming soon at:

photo courtesy of David McNicholas