the Best Day to Go Hawk Watching in the Fall?
is a common question, but unfortunately, the only possible answer
to it is "It depends." Whether a particular day is likely to produce
lots of migrating hawks depends on weather conditions both here
and to the north of us, and the way the flight has developed so
best advice we can give is to watch the weather reports and look
for the passage of a cold front followed by northwest, north or
northeast winds. The first and second days after a cold front
passes during the fall are likely to have good flights of migrating
raptors visible from hawkwatch sites (or maybe even your backyard).
your goal is to witness the grand spectacle of thousands of migrating
Broad-Winged Hawks, you want to look for a day with these weather
conditions roughly between the 10th and 20th of September. Unlike
most other species of hawks, the entire population of broadwings
vacates the northeast around the same dates every year. In 25
years of observations, EMHW watchers have seen 90 percent of their
total broadwing count between September 10 and 20 -- a time period
often referred to as the "Broad-Wing window."
a particular day during that period will produce a big show depends
entirely on how far the birds have progressed on their migration
by that time, and if winds and weather have transpired to concentrate
them and send them past one of our watch sites within range of
our optics. Using 8X binoculars, an observer can pick out a bird
the size of a Broad-Winged Hawk passing not much further than
a mile away. It's entirely possible to have a massive hawk movement
through the area without anyone being aware of it.
people go hawkwatching on the first weekend in the middle of the
broadwing window than at any other time, looking for virtual "rivers
of hawks." However, good numbers of hawks may be seen well almost
anytime between early September and mid-November with preferable
weather conditions. Remember that hawks are more likely to be
seen in good numbers on a weekday, rather than a weekend. (There
are only two days on a weekend!) Don't be afraid to go hawkwatching
on a weekday in the middle of September, or any other fall month
with favorable weather.