Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fall hawk migration - late August

About the middle of August as I was looking at the early season hawkwatch results, many of the sites were posting decent numbers for early August. I remember thinking that if the results continued at the same rate, most of the eastern hawkwatches were just about one good day away from posting nice August results. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Now it’s the end of the month, and while Hawk Ridge MN has some nice numbers, the eastern hawkwatches have pretty ugly August results.

First, let’s look at the good news. As of August 28, Hawk Ridge had posted its third best August ever for Broad-winged Hawks with the highest total of the little buteo since 1998, which had 719. They may have a shot at that second best August Broadwing total over these last few days of the month but likely aren’t going to reach 1977’s 1031. Hawk Ridge also counted the season’s first Northern Goshawk on August 20 and currently have a total of 4. That result isn’t an August record, but it’s close. The rest of the species have not fared nearly so well.

When I say the eastern hawkwatches aren’t having a good August, what I mean is that many are posting results that are half of their best results. American Kestrel seem particularly low pretty much everywhere, but everything from eagles to ospreys to Sharp-shinned Hawks were also counted in very low numbers.

Weather is to blame, of course. In the east this August has been untypically rainy and foggy after a blistering hot and dry July. Nice cold fronts have been in short supply. August hawkwatching is always a bit chancy, so let’s look at the bright side and hope that a poor August means a super September is only a few days away.


  1. Good morning, Can you point me to a count site for western states? Yesterday afternoon we witnessed about 70-85 hawks on a thermal right above our place on the Palouse in eastern WA. In the 20 years we've lived here we've never been privileged to see this before. It was amazing! I want to know what hawks these were, and am hoping you have a site or two you can recommend.

  2. Hawk watching in earnest started here on September 1. The numbers are still low but are expected to rise as northwest winds move them our way. That has not happened yet. :)

  3. Anonymous: Chelen Ridge is a site in Washington sponsored by HawkWatch International ( Check out their site and ask what was seen on Chelen Ridge on September 2. That might help you figure out what species you saw. Great sightings!