Calling All Broad-winged Hawks
State Line Hawk Watch Yesterday

My Column: Primetime for Broad-wings

Soehnlein broad-wing Stateline
My "Bird Watcher" column in The Record today is all about the current broad-winged hawk migration, and why now is prime time.

The star of the column is Karl Soehnlein's photo of a broad-winged hawk over the State Line Lookout in Alpine.

(Thanks, Karl!)

You can read the column here:

By Jim Wright

Special to The Record

 

If you enjoy watching migrating raptors, you know mid-September is magical. 

This is prime time for broad-winged hawks, which fly through our region by the thousands this time of year. Today just might be the best day of all. 

“Broad-winged hawks are the first of the raptors to head south JWright BirdWatcherTheRecord_20210916_LF03_0-page-001 (1) -- to Brazil and Argentina -- in vast numbers,” says Karl Soehnlein, who manages the State Line Hawk Watch in Alpine. ”It could be thousands at a time. Typically, the majority of them are seen between Sept. 10 and Sept.  24. Sept. 16 is right in the middle of this two-week period.”

State Line is a great place to see the aerial displays of these medium-sized raptors for practical reasons as well. It’s in nearby Alpine. It offers easy access -- a short, flat walk from the parking lot. And it provides excellent views of the Hudson River from high atop the Palisades.  Did I mention it has an old-style snack bar with restrooms?

Thus, when I saw the sign-up calendar for State Line Hawk Watch volunteers and realized they needed a hawk counter for this often special afternoon, I hopped on the opportunity.

I’m no eagle eye, but I try to help when I can. I figured this afternoon would be an ideal time because plenty of skilled hawk watchers will be on hand to help identify and count birds.

Please join us. You don’t have to be an expert birder. You don’t have to be able to spot distant raptors or identify the ones that fly past up-close. You just have to be ready to keep your eyes open and enjoy the people, the birds and the panoramic views of the Hudson and beyond.

As Soehnlein says: “First-time hawk watchers should come and join the fun. Most people don’t realize that the hawks migrate this time of the year and that they are flying right over their heads.”

Two caveats:

There is no guarantee you’ll see many migrating raptors since everything depends on weather and wind currents. But even if the hawks are no-shows, the local peregrine falcons often put on some spectacular displays, and you might see some migrating monarch butterflies or hummingbirds as well. 

     There's no guarantee that it won’t rain. (I wrote this column last week, so it was hard to predict today’s weather.)

What have you got to lose? Today just might be a red-letter day.

Maurice Broun, the first curator of the legendary Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania, described "red-letter days" as "those days when hawks flood the sanctuary skyways, as in fulfillment of a hawk-lover's hopes and dreams."

Says Soehnlein: “All you need is binoculars and a curious mind.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions.”

The hawk watch is located at the State Line Lookout off the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Alpine. Parking and admission are free. 

The Bird Watcher column appears every other Thursday. Email Jim at celeryfarm@gmail.com.

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