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(Updated 09/09/2018 .  Refresh page for most recent.)

 
Our 2018 Season has begun!  Join us!
 2018 Data    2018 Season Begins (below)        2017 Season Summary (below)

Hook Update - Fall 2018  
Sep 9 2018  
Hello Hawk Watchers!

The Hook Mountain Hawk Watch season has begun!  This is our 48th season, and our volunteer counters have counted more than 530,000 hawks since 1971, including more than 320,000 Broad-winged Hawks.  Last year Hook had the 2nd highest single day count for Broadwings in the whole NorthEast - 3164 on Sep 22.  Were you there that day?

Broadwing Season
Days of more than 1000 Broadwings -the Grand Counts - have occurred on various dates in September.  In 2014 we had Grand Counts on two days in a row - 2448 on 9/14 and 1349 on 9/15.  In 2011 it was 14,670 on 9/17, our best count this century!  All these dates, and Grand Counts for every other year, have occurred during the concentrted flight period of 2 weeks - Sep 10 to Sep 23.  And, this year's Broadwing season is about to begin.  So, come up to Hook and help us!  We need your eyes to spot them.

Hook in Action
This year has already seen some drama on the Hook:  an immature Bald Eagle chasing a kiting Red-tailed Hawk (Trudy), a Kestrel - chased by a Cooper's Hawk - escaping across the valley and over the high school (John), a Merlin zooming across the summit 3 times trying to flush up some lunch (Drew), and a pair of Peregrines patrolling the Hook all day (Danielle, Felicia).  There is so much to be seen and so much fun seeing it.  Join us!

Looking forward to seeing you on the Hook,
Trudy
Red-tailed Hawk hovers, then dives for lunch.  8/31/18 
American Kestrel at Hook
Kestrel takes Brad's colors as a challenge! 9/8/18
Brad Klein at Hook 
The Rainbow Cowboy Hawk Watcher

Hook - Fall 2017 Summary

This 2017 summary was presented at our December Luncheon,
along with summaries of 4 other watches in the area:
Fire Island, State Line, Mount Peter, and Bear Mountain.


Hook Update - Fall 2017
Oct 22 2017
Broad-winged Hawks

The hawks have been flying at Hook! We welcomed days with North winds and cool temperatures in September this season, a big change



Broad-winged Hawks

The hawks have been flying at Hook! We welcomed days with North winds and cool temperatures in September this season, a big change from the very hot September days of the last couple of years. With the return of bygone weather, we also had a few more hawks, with 4952 Broad-winged Hawks, more than the last 2 years and just about at average. This is well above our median count of 3405, often considered more typical than the average. So, we did well with Broadwings this year, thanks to your dedication to being on the Hook!  (See Fall 2017 Dailies.)  For a comparison of the strikingly different winds in September 2016 and September 2017, see below.

Other Species at Average:  Golden Eagle and Merlin (59)

John, Vince, and Steve enjoyed seeing our only Golden Eagle of the year so far. It was a close view, and we all wish we were there that day. Our next Golden will be the 200th all-time Golden Eagle at Hook. I can’t wait to find out which day it will be, and which of us will get to see it! Dates for Golden sightings in the last 3 years were:

2014: 10/25, 10/27 (2), 10/31, 11/7, 11/11

2015: 10/16, 10/17, 10/19, 10/23 (2), 10/30 (2), 10/31, 11/14, 11/23

2016: 11/6 (2), 11/18, 11/23 (2)

For the dates above when 2 Goldens passed over Hook, the following winds are noted on Wunderground, using wind speed as average > gusts:

WNW 9>23, NNW 10>28, WNW 10>23, NNW 11>29, NW 12>25.

Drew is right – he always says that Goldens like the blustery days. So, be sure to get up to Hook on any of the next blustery days.  

Bald Eagle immatureBald Eagle checks us out!  10/19/17  Note the uneven border of the remiges on this immature

Possible Record Highs - Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon

Our good news for the season are our above average hawks. As expected, these include Bald Eagles, currently at a count of 164. We need 34 more to reach a new record. Last year we counted 40 in the time remaining, so a new record is possible.

Our surprise of this season is the Peregrine Falcon.  We have counted 49 so far.  Our record year of 54 was 1990, a year when numbers were low on the barrier beach but high inland.  I had not expected to get close to the record for years, but we only have 6 Peregrines to go for a new record!  Last year we counted 11 PGs after Oct 22, so a new record is very possible, perhaps even likely.

Possible Record Low - Sharp-shinned Hawk

We have counted 1070 Sharpies so far. Our record low, in 2016, was 1426, so we need almost 400 to avoid a new record low. Hopefully we will do that. The adults are moving through now, so there will be more to come. But, on average we can expect only about 255 more to come. Hopefully, I am wrong about this one, but it looks very much like we will hit a new low for our beloved Sharpies.

Kestrels are still below average: a count of 190 compared to an average of 221 by Oct 22. We have already past the low of 152 for the year in 2008, so at least it will not be a record low year. And, there is hope that we can break 200 again this year.

So, be sure to come up to Hook and help us count!

Trudy


September Winds during the Broadwing Season

Below are two graphs that require a bit of interpretation.  They show wind direction for September 2016 and September 2017.  The vertical axis at left represents clockwise degrees from north.  Both 0⁰  and 360⁰   represent north, so North is both at the top and at the bottom of each graph.  The top square represents NW winds, and the bottom square represents NE winds.  The middle line, at 180⁰ represents South winds.  The two vertical lines show the bounds of our typical Broadwing season, from Sep 10 to Sep 24.

 The difference in the wind patterns for the two years is striking, with a jumbled mix of winds in 2016, when the Broadwing flight was weak and late; and north winds predominant this year, with our stronger flight.

winds for BW season in 2016 and 2017

Wind History: Wunderground

2016:  2016 was the year when we thought the Broadwings would never come.  Looking at the winds above, 9/11 and 9/14 both had NW winds and look good for hawks.  However, further investigation shows high winds on 9/11, and rain with thunderstorms on 9/14 and 9/15, inhibiting migration.  By 9/20 the winds had more or less shifted towards North, and the BWs finally came.  Our 2 days with counts of more than 100 finally arrived with 2212 BWs on 9/21 and 176 on 9/24. 

2017:  The two days with our highest Broadwing counts this year were 9/11 with 839 and 9/22 with 3164.  These days are noted on the graph by the boxes on the horizontal axis.  Note that each of these occurred after 2 days of sustained NW or NNW winds.  The only other days with triple digit counts were 9/10 with 100 and 9/12 with 377.  These days also were preceded by a day or more of NW winds. 

We have known for years that our Broadwing flights were associated with light winds and well developed thermals.  We also suspected that their numbers were effected by winds.  These graphs support the wind hypothesis.



The Broadwings are coming! along with International Hawk Migration Week, 2017
are dark morph Browdwing Hawk at Hook Mountain

The Broadwing season is here, and along with it, the International Hawk Migration Week (IHMW).  IHMW begins this Saturday, Sep 16, and continues to Sunday, Sep 24.  It is sponsored by HMANA, the Hawk Migration Association of North America, to celebrate the wonder and phenomenon of hawk migration across the continent.
 

Broad-winged Hawks are our most numerous species at Hook.  They migrate over Hook from now to Sep 24, accounting for 50% of our total hawks in just 2 weeks.  They peaked on Sep 16 for five of the last 17 years, and the median peak date is Sep 17.  This past weekend had very favorable weather conditions for the whole Northeast, and many watch sites north of us have counted hundreds already.  And three sites, in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, had more than 1000 on Sunday.  So, the Broad-wings are headed this way!  They are coming, and will be flying right over your heads any minute now!

We marvel at the hawks of all species flying overhead.  The experience is always personal and special.  You never forget the first time a Goshawk or a Peregrine or a Red-tail is close enough to look straight into your eyes as it flies overhead.  You wonder – did it breed in Canada or the US?  Will it winter in South America, Mexico, or Florida?  We only glimpse a portion of their lives as they move across our landscape.  Yet that glimpse connects us directly to the natural world surrounding us - on the Hook, along the Hudson, along the beach, across the ridges.  It also connects us indirectly to their destinations throughout the Americas, where they need healthy environments to overwinter.

             Experience the magic!                 Come and help us count hawks on Hook!
                    Celebrate the remarkable phenomenon of hawk migration!


Trudy                                               Directions to Hook
  
The 2017 Season Begins! 
are dark morph Browdwing Hawk at Hook Mountain
      We counted 43 hawks of 9 species in August, so we have a good start on the season.  On Sep 1 we had a dark morph Broad-winged Hawk pass between Nyack and the Hook headed due west.  Neat sighting!  They are unusual in the east!
  

Fall 2016 Dailies
 
A Winter Sharpie stops by the Feeder 
 
Hook Update - Fooled by the Broadwings
Oct 1 2016

While Penn & Teller might have been able to give you the correct date for the Broadwing peak this year, I definitely got fooled !   Our big day this year was Sep 21 !   That was a week later than I expected.  It was Steve’s day, and Tom was the one who spied the Broadwings kettling off to the northwest of Hook, late in the day.  Their total Broadwing count that day was 2212.  And, like many of you, I missed it.  (See Fall 2016 Dailies.)

The Good News: Osprey and Bald Eagle

Osprey and Bald Eagles are doing well so far this season. The Osprey count of 291 is about 40% above average (since 2004), and the Bald Eagle count of 102 is 33% above average. We set new records for Bald Eagle in 2013, 2014, and 2015.  With an above average year, there is a temptation to think that we will set a new record again this year.  However, we need a few extra Eagles to catch up to last year, when we had 110 by Oct 1.

Adult Bald Eagle checks out the owl
Sep 22 2016

 

The Not-so-Good News: Harriers, Sharpies, and Kestrels

We have below average counts for Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and American Kestrel.

At 33 on Oct 1, Northern Harriers are down 44%, but are typically variable. Furthermore, they continue to migrate throughout the season. So there should be many more coming before the end of the season.

We have counted only 531 Sharp-shinned Hawks this season, 43% below average. This is behind last year’s 740 by Oct 1. Last year was our rock bottom year for Sharpies, with only 1433 for the whole season! In most years we have had one or two days with more than 100 Sharpies. This year our highest count was on 9/26, when Carol’s group counted 83. I am hoping that, like the Broadwings, our Sharpies are also a week behind, and we will be seeing higher than usual numbers for the weeks ahead.

At only 119 American Kestrels on Oct 1, we are 24% below average and also behind last year’s 161. We have struggled in recent years to reach at least 200 Kestrels per year, and continue in that struggle.

When I look back to the dates when averages for these three species were equivalent to this year’s Oct 1 count, the dates range from Sep 20 to Sep 22. So, it appears that our flight is a little more than a week late. Hopefully, it is a weather artifact and the flight will recover in the weeks ahead!   

So, be sure to come up to Hook and help us count!

Trudy




Hook Update-the Broadwings are Coming
Sep 11 2016

It’s that time of the year again – the Broad-winged Hawks are about to descend upon us!

Most Broadwings pass over Hook from Sep 11 to Sep 24 (see Broadwing season). It is quite amazing to think about that. Broad-winged Hawks are our most prevalent species, comprising 61% of all hawks counted since 1971, and 42% to 58% in any of the last few years.
We count hawks from Sep to Thanksgiving on 75 to 80 days. Yet we can expect about 50% of all the hawks counted this year to fly past Hook in the next 2 weeks! What an amazing phenomenon!

Peak BW Days at Hook
Days with more than 1000 Broad-winged Hawks
There have been 16 days since 2004 when we counted more than 1000 Broadwings at Hook. This occurred on at least 1 day in every year and, over the 12 years, on every date from Sep 14 to Sep 22, except Sep 18. The following table shows the number of years for each date.

While this is only 12 years of data, there seems to be a pattern of peak days occurring earlier in the season in the years since 2010 than in the years before 2010. Check out the graph of September Dates vs. Years.

Peak BW Days at Hook Mountain

The graph suggests that counts of more than 1000 BWs occur about 1/2 day earlier each year.

So, when will our big day be this year?

It seems most likely to be some time in this next week, between now and Sep 17.
The regression line puts it somewhere between the 14th and 15th, but closer to the 14th.
The probabilities put it at Sep 16th – that was the big day for five of the last 12 years! (Note the 5 dots along the horizontal line for Sep 16)
The seasonal distribution puts it at Sep 17th, the day we had almost 15,000 in 2011.

That brings us to the weather. Broadwings need good thermals, which occur when there is sunshine and light winds. The forecast for this week is for sun on almost every day, straight through the week. So, we need to look for the days when the wind is too light to disrupt the thermals created by the sun warming the earth’s surface.
But, caution!   All this is with the absence of any significant 2 or 3 digit numbers of Broadwings up north, ..  yet! 

I'm hoping that I pick the right day, and that I see you there! There are exciting days ahead!

Trudy


 

2016 Fall Season Begins

The 2016 Fall Season at Hook Mountain officially begins on Thursday, Sep 1.  We are looking forward to a good season ahead.  Join us for the fun and excitement of watching hawks migrate past the Hook!
   
The following video (below or separate page) provides a summary of the 2015 season, together with audio from the Hook luncheon last December.  Check it out for a comparison to our history, and for some surprises.

2015 Season Summary (same as below, on separate page)

Fall 2015 Dailies


Hook Mountain Update

Nov 1 2015

The Eagles are Flying!


Golden Eagles

We have reached 8 Golden Eagles by Oct. 31! Our average for a year is 6, so we are doing well. The First Golden arrived on Friday, Oct. 16, and we have had 2 days with 2 Goldens each, and they were both Fridays! Other days with 1 Golden each were on two Saturdays and a Monday.

This is fantastic! And we should be getting more. On average, we get 1 Golden Eagle a week for the first 3 weeks in November.


Bald Eagles

We have not only set a new record for Bald Eagles, but we have reached 2,000 counted since 1971! That is yet another benchmark for this season. The 2,000th Bald Eagle passed by on Friday, 10/30, along with 9 other Bald Eagles and 2 Goldens that day.

Our Bald Eagle count so far this season is 172, 2 more than our record of 170 set last year.

 

Northern Harriers

On Tuesday, 10/27/2015, we counted Northern Harrier #7,000 at Hook since 1971. This is the season for the adult males, known as Gray Ghosts to hawk watchers, to migrate. Be sure to get out to see some. They are a special sight.

Bald Eagle peers down on hawk watchers on Hook, Oct 22, 2015
  Bald Eagle peers down on Hook, 10/22/15

More Big Hawks are Coming this Month

The month of November is when the buteos, vultures, and eagles fly over Hook. Come to the Hook to help us count the Red-tailed Hawks, the Red-shouldered Hawks, more Eagles, and maybe a Goshawk or two!

Trudy


Unusual Sighting at Hook
Oct 15, 2015
gyrocopter- rear propeller is run by engine; top propeller then "lifts" the copter
We are calling this gyrocopter the Go Kart Copter
 

Hook Mountain Update

Oct 3 2015

Half the Broad-wings; Double the Merlins


Half our average Broad-winged Hawks

Our Broad-winged Hawk (BW) count to Oct 1 is under 2300, less than any year since 2003, and less than half our 10-year average of 4967.

Watch sites to our west and to our east have counted lots more this year, so the BWs did come through - just not over Hook. More went west than east – Mount Peter had more than 11,000, but Quaker Ridge had less than 6000. I suspect that prevailing south winds early in the migration window kept many of the hawks north of us, and due North winds during peak week sent the hawks that had passed us south to our west and the hawks remaining in New England went south to our east. At Hook our peak days for BWs were Wed 9/16, when we counted 1399, and Mon 9/21, when we counted 625.

Merlin

Double our average Merlins

We have had a good Merlin (ML) year so far, with 54 by Oct 1st, compared to our 10-year average of 26. We have counted MLs on 24 of the 32 days and more than 10 MLs on 6 days! Our record year for MLs was 1990 when we counted 119! Prior to 1990 our highest ML count was 46 (in 1989) and since 1990 our highest ML count was 74 in 2011. So, the 119 MLs in 1990 was truly extraordinary.

Is there a chance we can reach that and set a new record? We need 66 more MLs to set a new record. Our average number from now to the end of the season is 28, which would give us 82. If that 28 is doubled, as this season has gone so far, we would reach 110, just shy of the record. So, keep watching the skies over Hook for Merlins. We just might be recording another extraordinary year.

Other Species

We have counted above average numbers of Osprey, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. We have below average numbers of Northern Harrier and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Cooper’s Hawks and American Kestrels are below average, but not very far below. And, of course the Red-shouldered Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks are yet to come. [You can see a comparison of this year’s total to the 10-year average to date, posted regularly at the bottom of the 2015 daily counts.


Two All-Time Benchmarks Reached!   12,000 Osprey;   20,000 Kestrels

Our counters have accomplished 2 grand totals this season – total numbers of hawks since we started in 1971. We reached 12,000 Osprey on Monday, Sep 7th, and the big 20,000 Kestrels on Tuesday, Sep 15th. Congratulations to all who were on the Hook on those days, and also to all who have spotted an Osprey or Kestrel on each day of our history!! You have done a great job documenting these and other species. It looks like we have much to celebrate at our luncheon this year. [See yearly data with records.]

May you see many more hawks this season!
Trudy .


Hook Mountain Update
Sep 12 2015

It is September 12th and our Broad-winged Hawks are on delay, waiting for the weather to break. Today there were several hawk watch sites up in New England that had triple digit numbers of BWs, so they are finally headed our way. Watch for them to pass Hook during this week. Most will be flying by when the sun is shining and thermals abound.

Also watch for our 20,000th American Kestrel. We only need 10 more Kestrels to reach that magic all-time number! (since 1971)

There are exciting days ahead!

Trudy


Sep 7 2015

We have been counting hawks at Hook for about a week, and we are doing quite well in spite of the very hot temperatures on some of those days.   Some hawks have been coming through – 162 hawks, 11 species counted by Sep 6  – and of course some have just been flying around, giving us a show. 

Every year brings a surprise or two.  Last year it was the remarkable number of Red-shouldered Hawks, with 64 on Halloween and a season total of 308, well beyond our previous record of 194.  I wonder what surprises are coming this year....   

There are a couple of all-time events we know are coming.

12,000th Osprey in the next couple of days.
We should count our all-time 12,000th Osprey this week.  As of Sep 6, we only need 9 more.  We have 56 Osprey this season and have been averaging 6 per day, so keep track of the Osprey on Monday and Tuesday to watch for that record.

20,000th Kestrel within the next week or so
We should also reach our 20,000th Kestrel within the next week.  We already have 20 for this year, and we need 30 more.  With Kestrels declining in the last decade, this is a BIG one!  Every Kestrel counts, and we need your eyes to help us spot them.

The Broad-winged Season is almost here
We are approaching the BW season!  Last year they came a little earlier than usual, so be prepared.  Their typical season is a narrow window from Sep 10 to Sep 25.  Their average peak is Sep 17, but last year our big day was Sep 14.

Looking forward to seeing you on the Hook!
Trudy


***   Hook Luncheon   ***
Saturday, Dec 6 2014   Season Summary Video
We celebrated our hawks!  We celebrate our Watchers!

  

2014 Count Season Summary      
2013 Count Season Summary 2012 Count Season Summary
2011 Count Season Summary:  The BIG Year 2010 Count Season Summary
2009 Count Season Summary 2008 Count  
           
We Did It!!

*** New Record of Red-shouldered Hawks!! ***
We've counted 219 so far. 
Old record was 194, set in 1999. 

October 31, 2014  See dailies for most recent

The Shoulders are still moving through! Not only did we break the record, but we are ahead of the record by 25!   And we have another 10 days to 2 weeks left to their flight season at Hook.   There were double digit numbers of RSs in 6 of the last 8 days, with a resounding 64 counted on Halloween.   The big questions at this point are:    "How many more are coming?"    "Does this reflect a real population increase?" 



Webpage Updates in 2014

Webpage Updates in 2013
SPECIES TRENDS
American Kestrel:  Cause for Concern Broad-winged Hawk Northern Harrier
Merlin:  Good News Red-tailed Hawk ct: Falcons at FIRE
Peregrine:  More Now Red-shouldered Hawk Since 1971

Up Close and Personal

How Close?

Action Videos at Hook!

Copperhead

  Hook on the Radio (start 9:45)

NEHW Hawk ID

click for action video
Slow motion Red-tailed Hawk on swoop to owl.  (Click for normal speed.)

Join the fun!  Directions.


Photos by Steve Sachs - great stuff!
Cooper's Hawk Video

Fall 2010 CountRecord BV, BE, and CH!
Fall 2009 Count:  Record BE, 125! RL!
Fall 2008 Count:  SK!! Record BE, 82!
Fall 2007 Count:  Record BV, 46!
Fall 2006 Count:  Record GE, 20!
Fall 2005 Count Record CH, 278!
Fall 2004 Count:
  Record CH, 185
 

We are an all volunteer group of hawk watchers, and we need your help!  Please contact Trudy if you can take the count for a day.  If you would like to learn, we will pair you up with one of our watchers.


Sited just above the Hudson River, we see Eagles and Peregrines regularly.     The problem is deciding which are actually migrating, and therefore countable.   We often see them flying up and down the Hudson, more than we actually count.

 You can enjoy these beautiful hawks, and our spectacular view!  If you
can help to count, even
for a day,
we need you! 
Contact Trudy.


Golden Eagle, 10/19/06:  video (6000KB)

Updated:  09/09/2018  

Records (coming soon) Hawk Watchers Report forms:  excelpdf
Important Bird Area Directions Hook Mountain State Park

  Find the Action here!


Hawk Data for Hook Mountain

 
Hawks at Hook:  Yearly, since 1971
Bald Eagle:   seasonal data
Sharp-shinned:  seasonal data
Am. Kestrel:  seasonal data
 

If you are a hawkwatcher and willing to keep the count, we need you!  Contact Trudy Battaly, merlin@pipeline.com, if you can help.  (Unless otherwise noted, photos by Trudy Battaly.)


Bat's Bytes Hook FIRE NEHW HMANA

Updated:  09/09/2018