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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5,290 Hawks, Pack Monadnock, NH

Hawk watchers l. to r., Henry (official counter), Tom, Katrina, Don, Lillian, Rod, David, Lily, Janet. In front, Ken, Francie

On Sunday, 9/18/11 we, and many others, were at Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory, run by NH Audubon, to witness their historic, record-setting, hawk migration flight. We had 5,290 raptors migrate over our heads, almost all of them Broad-winged Hawks. This made the season's total of migrating hawks, so far, to over 10,000 raptors, thus hence the sign and happy faces. It was awesome!

Broad-winged Hawk, adult. Thousands glided by overhead.

Broad-winged Hawks migrate in groups, riding thermals of warm air, then gliding to the next thermal, as a way of conserving energy on their long journey to their wintering areas in Central and South America.

A rising group of Broadwings is called a "kettle". One of the kettles we saw contained over 1,000 hawks.

The hawks peel off at the top of the kettle and ride to the next one. At one point we all stood in awed silence as many hundreds glided right over our heads, just filling the sky. It was such a powerful and emotional sight, of all those hawks, driven by instinct, going together on their perilous migration journey.

We have been watching migrating hawks each fall for over 30 years. It's a wonderful addiction, which, as someone on the mountain said, "there is no cure".


Chatterbirds said...

Raptor watching is always so exciting. Must have been a wonderful day!

Alton said...

What date is best at Pack Monadnock for total species? Total individuals?

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Best time at Pack is Sept. 10-20th to see the big Broad-winged Hawk migration numbers. After that, there are smaller numbers of hawks migrating but still plenty of falcons, accipiters, eagles and more until mid-Nov.