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December 17, 2017
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Fall migrants on the move

This is a sharp-shinned hawk, one of over 700 broad-winged hawks seen on the 20th of September at Sunrise Mountain in Stokes State Forest in New Jersey. These hawks form “kettle” formations as they ride thermals, and a single kettle can contain hundreds of broad-winged hawks.
TRR photos by Scott Rando

September 30, 2015

People think of fall and for many, the first thing to come to mind is geese flying high overhead and winging their way south. This usually starts in earnest during the first part of October; the first frost usually occurs sometime in this timeframe and seems to reinforce the thought that it is time to head south.
In the real world, some species get an early start and frequently are conspicuous in their movements. Common nighthawks, for example, start south around the middle of August into the first part of September. Dusk over lakes and rivers is the best place to look as nighthawks congregate to feed on insects in flight. In September, huge masses of broad-winged hawks move through our area following ridge lines where the wind provides lift to aid their flight to Central America. Ospreys are also seen in September and share the same ridges. Some smaller birds—warblers and other song birds—have already departed, some even starting in August. The last hatch of monarch butterflies is also heading south; migration counts help keep track of this species in peril.

By the time you read this, most of the broad-winged hawks will have moved through. However, other species of raptors will start their migration. Northern harriers, sharp-shinned hawks, peregrine falcons and a host of other raptors, including bald and golden eagles will be on the move well into November. If you wish to keep track of the species count, or even visit a site, information from the Hawk Migration Association of America (HMANA) can be found at www.hmana.org.