Broken clouds, light snow
Broken clouds, light snow
17.6 °F
December 13, 2017
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The raptors of autumn

Around the third week of September, broad-winged hawks move in huge numbers past Sunrise Mountain in streams or kettles numbering in the hundreds. On September 21, 946 broad-winged hawks were counted; in total 1,815 were counted this fall.
TRR photos by Scott Rando

November 9, 2016

With the arrival of colder autumn weather comes the honking of skeins of high-flying geese as they pass overhead. Not only geese are on the move, but a myriad of species of waterfowl make their way south for more favorable habitats. Many songbirds, too, are on the move south; some will winter as far as the South American continent. In autumn, many of the region’s raptors also make their way south for warmer climes.

Starting in mid-September, when large numbers of broad-winged hawks travel in huge groups, or kettles, until late November or early December, when golden eagles and northern goshawks stream through, the opportunity exists to find a properly aligned mountain ridge and see a variety of raptor species. When the various raptor species use the lift generated by the ridges during a northwest wind to gain altitude and speed effortlessly, it’s not uncommon to see six or more species of raptors during the course of a day. The images in this column show just a few of those species seen at Sunrise Mountain, located in Sussex County, NJ, during the last two months.