Hawk Count-October 20th-24th

One of three Goshawks on the 23rd

Red-shouldered Hawk

The past 5 days has been rather nice for raptor migration, with no weather significantly impacting the count.  In fact, more than 1,000 raptors have passed through, or 15% of the season’s count.  The typical late-season raptors have been picking up quite a bit, especially Red-shouldered HawksSeventy-four have been tallied in the last 5 days, with a peak of 25 on the 20th.  Nearly all have been adults.  Turkey Vultures have dropped off significantly, with only a modest peak of 67 on the 22nd.  It appears they may be done with big numbers for the season, which is rather surprising given the weather this season.  Likewise, Bald Eagles have occurred in much smaller numbers than expected for October and no double digit days have occurred since the 2nd.  Also following suit slowing down are Sharp-shinned Hawks with a very small peak of 7 on the 22nd.  Northern Goshawks have been nice to see, with an adult on the 20th and 2 adults and an immature on the 23rd.  Red-tailed Hawks have been moving through in consistently moderate numbers, with a few hundred most days now.  The peak of the period (and season) occurred on the 22nd, with 335 birds tallied.  “Dark Morph” Red-tailed Hawks have occurred on a few days, with a peak of 4 on the 22nd. We are in Rough-legged Hawk season now and 2-5 birds have been daily.  The start of peak Golden Eagle migration is upon us, with lone birds tallied on the 21st and 22nd, and four on the 24th.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

We have definitely shifted more towards “quality raptors” vs. big numbers at this point in the season.  It was hoped that with the poor weather this month, large numbers of Turkey Vultures and moderate numbers of Sharp-shinned Hawks still would have continued, particularly the last 2 days.  Additionally, it seemed set up for a monster Red-tailed day on either of the last 2 days, but that has not occurred.  With a fair amount of rain now forecast through the rest of October, it’ll be really interesting to see what Red-taileds do through the rest of the month and season.  Have they already peaked?  Regardless, it’s still an exciting 3 weeks ahead of us, with Rough-legged Hawk and Golden Eagle peaks still ahead of us, and possibly Goshawks as well.

Recent non-raptor highlights have included over 500 Sandhill Cranes, dozens of White-winged Scoters, hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks, daily Horned Grebes on the lake, a Sanderling, Greater Yellowlegs, a  Great Black-backed Gull, hundreds of Crows, dozens of Chickadees, and the (presumed) long-staying Carolina Wren.  Snow Buntings and Redpolls arrived on the 21st, and American Tree Sparrow on the 24th.

Great Black-backed Gull