Fall 2012 Season
Oct 20, 2012
Deluge the Hook
On Oct 17 there were 42
Red-shouldered Hawks at Hook! ....and our 5th
Golden Eagle for the season!
Then on Oct 18,
there were 16 more Red-shoulders! We are
up to 84 Red-shoulders for this season so far,
more than in a full season for 17 of our 41
In the last 8 years our
average number of Shoulders by Oct 18 is only
24, so this puts us way ahead of average.
The highest we have counted in a single day
since 2004 was 31 on Nov 2 2008, making the
count of 42 on Wed exceptional.
Interestingly, both days
with good RS numbers were calm to light winds.
So, don't be fooled by days without NW winds.
Those days can bring some good hawks with
really good views.
Our peak season for
RS at Hook is late Oct through mid Nov.
Oct 14, 2012
On Oct 13 there were 4 Golden
Eagles at Hook! In 2006, when we tallied 20
Goldens for the season, we had two days with 3 Goldens,
Oct 26 and Oct 31. During that year our earliest
Golden was in late September, so that was an
extraordinary year, our only year since 1971 with more
than 9 Goldens. We did not count any Goldens last
year, the second year since 1971 with none. 1982 was
the other year.
Hook since 1971 )
So, four Goldens in one day is very exciting! That
equals the seasonal average since 1971 - all in one
day! For the last 10 years we have averaged 5 Goldens
(influenced by the 20 counted 2006). So, keep your
eyes to the skies and help us find more!
The Good News
Eagles, and American Kestrel
Our Osprey count is at 388,
which is above our 8 year average to Oct 13 of
257, and more than any other year except for the
record year for Osprey of 435 in 1989.
To set a new record we need another 48
That would require an outstanding late
In 2007 we counted 24 Ospry from Oct 13
to the end of the season, so 48 is a really big
Thanks to all of you who just kept
watching on those bad weather days when the
Osprey came through.
Bald Eagles are doing well
99 by Oct 13, we are 65% above the 8-year
average, but still a long way from the year
record of 142.
We need 44 more Bald Eagles for a new
In 2012 we counted 45 BEs after Oct 13,
so a new record is very possible! For some
fun action, check out the
new video of the local Red-tail attacking a Bald
count of 298 is currently 44% above the
8-year average for this date, and also
more than our 8 - year season average of
It looks like we finally broke
the 200 barrier of the last 4 years and
aim for the 8 year high of 332.
That is only 35 more!
On average we have counted 21
after Oct 13, so 35 is well within
The OK News -
Sharp-sinned Hawks and Cooper's Hawks
Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper's Hawks
are at average counts, with 1468
Sharpies and 141 Coops.
accipiters are our regulars, delighting
us all with close flights over Hook, and
frequent passes at the owl.
The Not-so-Good News
Hawks, Northern Harriers, and Merlins
Beyond our very low
Broad-winged Hawks numbers this year, other
species below average are Northern Harrier and
We have counted only 53 Harriers and 23
Merlins so far this year.
Both are about 35% below average.
Harriers generally have cyclical
populations, so this might be expected, but we
might need to look closer at the Merlins.
Red-shoulders, and Turkey Vultures are beginning
I always think of Halloween as being the
Golden Eagle / Northern Goshawk time!
On Oct 31 we counted 3 Gos in 2007 and 2
Also, we have counted Rough-legged Hawks
at this time in October:
Oct 17 and Oct 20 in 2010.
So, be sure to help us count all the late
season hawks, regulars and
Sep 22, 2012 -
for most species,
it has been a very good year
been a very interesting and somewhat different
September season at Hook, with a couple of very
Overall, for most species
it has been a very good year!
Number of Broad-winged Hawks
First, we have had low numbers of
Broad-winged Hawks, with 2572 through Sep 22.
That is about half our 8 year average of 4953
and much lower than last year's numbers.
There were 5 years since 1971 when our yearly
totals were less than our current tally.
Erratic annual numbers are typical for BWs.
Their numbers vary significantly with weather
year we have had weather fronts almost weekly, and
that has most likely encouraged them to keep moving,
preventing any buildup of large numbers.
out across the Northeast both geographically and
Kestrels have been doing well this season.
There were 52 counted on
That was a single
While we have
hovered around a seasonal total of about 200
for the last four years, we have already counted
215 by Sep 22.
That puts us at the
8 year cumulative average for Oct 18, and makes
for a very exciting Kestrel count.
The next target to
consider is the 8-year seasonal average of 228,
which we will undoubtedly pass.
Beyond that is the
8 year high of 332.
Now, that will be a
Thanks to all who
found and counted those Kestrels!
Hopefully, we can
Osprey numbers are about double our 8 year
counted 289 by Sep 22, compared to the 8-year
cumulative average of 146.
We have even passed 270, the 8-year seasonal
Osprey are sometimes referred to as bad weather birds
because they will continue to migrate even in rainy
Sep 8, with 'wicked windy weather' we counted 101
previous highs for a single day were 79 on 9/30/11, 33
on 9/13/10, 40 on 9/26/07, 36 on 9/26/06, and 29 on
Perhaps we can top the 8- year seasonal high of 345.
Good Bald Eagles
Bald Eagles by Sep 22, 84% higher than our
average is 87, well within reach.
On Sep 16, we
counted 16 Bald Eagles, a record day for
recent years, but 1 shy of historical records.
2012 Season Started, with Mississippi Kite!
We have a great start to the 2012 Season at
Hook. In our first 6 days of coverage we
totaled 69 hawks.
We started the season with
a Northern Harrier on Aug 19, and a Mississippi Kite on
Thursday, Aug 30! Perhaps we should
begin coverage a week or two earlier in the season,
since Mississippi Kites have started breeding in the
northeast in the last few years, and they migrate
Videos of breeding pair at Sterling Forest
Early migration of MIKI at Corpus Christi
2011 Northeast Day Records
NorthEast Hawk Watch,
NEHW issues an annual report edited by Seth
Kellogg. The report includes a section
that compares the day counts of all the hawk
watch sites that report data to HMANA.
This year's Report, 2011 Hawk Migration, compares
day rankings for 42 hawk watch sites from New
Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, eastern New York,
and northern New Jersey.
We knew, of
course, that our big Broad-winged migration day
of last year, with
14670 BWs on Sep 17, 2011 was our 2nd best
all time day for BWs. But, it was also
the best BW day in the whole Northeast last
year! Thanks to all the many helpers
that day. Also, Hook had the 2nd best day
and 8th best day for
Sharp-shinned Hawks in the Northeast last
year. The 2nd best was 255 on Oct 6. The 8th
best was 170 on Sep 26. The only other
species for which we ranked in the top ten for
day counts was
Osprey, with 79 Osprey on Sep 30, the 6st
best day in the Northeast.
Remember that our
Kestrel count has been below 200 for 3 of
the last 4 years, so we are hoping for a good
number this year. We've counted 13
Kestrels through Sep 1 of this year, slightly
ahead of average. We are looking for a
season of more than 200, hopefully more than
Kestrel at Hook, 9/1/12
Thanks to our many devoted
volunteers, we had another successful fall season at
Hook. We counted almost 20,000 hawks on 76 days.
Big Broad-winged Day!
The biggest story this season was
our big Broad-winged day: 14,670
Broad-winged Hawks in a single day! It was
a Saturday, Sep 17, so many people had the opportunity
to share the experience of this wonderful phenomenon.
Kettles of migrating hawks were
moving across the sky north of us, south of us, and
right over us. They started early and continued for 6
hours, ending when the clouds closed in and the
thermals stopped. See
real time and slow motion.
Species Above Average
Our other success this season was
Merlins. We counted 74 Merlins, the second
highest count at Hook. The highest day counts were 6
on Sep 30 and 7 on Oct 1. The other 61 were spread
out across the season, from Sep 3 to Nov 20.
Other species that were above
average this season include
Cooper’s Hawk, and
Peregrine Falcon, all of which have experienced a
steady increase over the years. (See graphs for
trends.) We were also fortunate to have
Short-eared Owl on Hook. This one was
flushed from roost leaving a pellet and a some
Species Near Average
Red-shouldered Hawk were near average this
season. We counted 6
Northern Goshawks, a better count than for 6 of
the last 10 years, but lower than our long term
average of 16. Our count of 2,064
Sharp-shinned Hawks was similar - close to the 10
year average of 1,970, but behind the long term
average of 2,961.
Species Below Average
American Kestrel numbers continue to be
problematic. We counted 196 this season, our third
year with less than 200. Last year (2010), we counted
248 Kestrels; that count broke the 2 lowest ever
counts of 152 in 2008 and 154 in 2009. We had great
hopes that Kestrels were recovering, and hoped to see
more than 200 this year. Acknowledging that
recoveries can include some bounces, we are looking at
the 196 this year as almost 200, and will carefully
watch next year to see if a recovery is real.
Northern Harrier count of 98 was well below
both the 10 year average and the long term average.
While Harrier trends show periodic drops in numbers
that may reflect biological dynamics, there still
seems to be an overall decline. The 40 year average
is 161 compared to the 10 year average of 121.
Harriers are seen throughout the fall season,
with most males migrating in late October to
The two species with low counts
this year are
Turkey Vulture and
Red-tailed Hawk. Our 57 TVs this season is the 5th
lowest count since we first counted them in 1980. We
have TVs everywhere around the Hook, but they just did
not fly past as countable migrants this season. We
counted 105 Red-tails this season, about 40% fewer
than our 10 year average of 179. This may be a
consequence of a very warm fall season, with
little to no snow
cover north of us.
Notably absent from our list this
year is the
Golden Eagle. This is hard to believe after a count of 20 in
2006, especially since Goldens were counted at other
watches in the region. The only other year with
no GE was 1982.
Watchers Brave the Weather
Perhaps the biggest story of this
season is the dedication of our hawk watchers. We had
coverage on 76 of the 82 possible days. During that
period, there was 14.7 inches of precipitation, 34
days (41.5%) with rain, snow, or thunderstorms, and 10
days with fog. We watched hawks on more days with
rain, drizzle and/or fog than in any other year. On
the day after the
snow storm that shut down much of
eastern NY and western CT, our counters climbed up
Hook, got passed fallen trees, and through deep snow.
Red-tails, Red-shoulders, and Bald Eagles were moving
that day, and they got counted.
wonderful hawk watchers! We need you all!
Thank you everyone for a
successful 2011 Season!
We have counted more than
18,000 hawks already this year, including 16,022
Broad-wings! Most of our Broad-wings came on 2 days:
1,072 on Sep 16, and 14,670 on Sep
17. Thirteen days later, on Sep 30, we reached
16,000 BWs! Until then, most other species were a
bit behind average, perhaps due to the unusually rainy
weather this fall. But, the numbers for all but two
species have caught up to normal.
Thank you to all our
numbers are almost 30% above the 7-year average to
this date. In fact, with more than 300 already, we
are above the full year count for Ospreys for 6 of the
last 8 years. Neat stuff!
Other species that are above the
7-year average include Bald
Sharp-shinned Hawk (24%),
(96%), and Peregrine Falcon (67%). Both
and Red-tailed Hawk
are above average, also, but their seasons are just
beginning. We have counted 24 RS and 18 RT so far.
So, keep watching for those buteos, now migrating
Sharp-shinned Hawk numbers have sparked an
interest this year. On Oct 6, there were 255
Sharpies. Since 2004, there has been only day with
more: 276 on Oct 19 2005. On the previous day of
that year, Oct 18, there were 206. The only other day
count of SS that was above 200 was Sep 18 2010 with
207. Sharp-shins fly throughout Sep and Oct, and
even into Nov. From Oct 10 to Oct 26, 30% of the
total flight occurs. So, keep an eagle eye out for
those Sharpies, because they are still coming! For
seasonal distribution, see graph below for recent
Northern Harrier (-18%) and
(-11%) are behind the 7-year average. Last year,
by this time, we had 9 days with 5 or more NH; this
year we have only 3 days. Harriers will fly through
Oct and Nov, so we are hoping to pick up more in the
days to come. Watch out for those Grey Ghosts
around Halloween time!
Goshawk We have already had 2 NG! Last
year, with a year total of 6 the first NG seen was on
Oct 24, 2010. This could be a good year!
Eagle We have no GE yet this year. Last
year our first was Oct 23. But, there have been
reports of Goldens around.
Rough-legged Hawk Last year we had 2
RLS! ... on Oct 17 and Oct 20. So, think about RL
when looking skyward.
There are still lots of hawks to come! May you have
wonderful, memorable experiences in the weeks ahead!