(Updated 11/1/15 .  Refresh page for most recent.)

*** Hook Luncheon ***
Celebrate Our 45th Year!
Celebrate Our 20,000 Kestrels!

Sat. Dec 5, 1 - 4 pm

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!


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.


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!


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!

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


Fall 2014 Dailies
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?" 

Hook Mountain Update
Oct 20, 2014: Red-shouldered Hawk
Oct 16, 2014: American Kestrel
Oct 11, 2014: Broad-winged Hawks, Bald Eagles, Sharp-shinned Hawks


Red-shouldered Hawks:  A Good Year So Far; possibly a Record Year
Red-shouldered Hawks at Hook

Red-shouldered Hawks are above average this year by at least 47%.  That's 51 Shoulders for this season compared to the 10-year average of 35 up to Oct 20.  Since 1971 Red-shouldered Hawks have varied from near 200 (max of 194 in 1999) to less than 50 (min of 29 in 2003).  Some of this variation may be accounted for by the absence of full coverage in November, but overall the trend is neither up nor down.  See the trends graph.   The last 10 years, however, shows quite a different story, with an increasing trend.

When we look at the seasonal distribution we see that most of our Red-shouldered Hawks migrate over Hook from mid-October to mid-November.  So, we will be counting most of this season's Shoulders during the next 3 to 4 weeks.  Our average number of hawks counted from Oct 21 to the end of the season is 88.  If we add that to our 51 tallied so far, we get 139, a year count that is well above the average since 1971 of 103, and even above the 10-year average of 123.   So, if the rest of the season is average, we will end up with a good RS year.

But, last year we counted 158 RSs from Oct 21 to Nov 21.  If we add that to our 51 tallied so far, we get a new record of 209 RSs.  At this point in time (Oct 20, 2014) we have counted 4496 Red-shouldered Hawks since the Hook Mountain Watch started in 1971.  So, as we count our 4500th Red-shouldered this week, we wonder:  "Will this be a record year for Red-shouldered Hawks? "  We need 144 more!  So, keep counting!


American Kestrel at 10-Year Average and Approaching 20,000 all time

Male Kestrel shows 'string of pearls'American Kestrel Shows "String of Pearls"
even against a cloudy sky

After a slow start through September, October brought 5 days of double digit counts for Kestrels, bringing our total so far to 215, one more than the 10-year average to date of 214.  This is actually more than full season counts for four of our last 10 years.  The trends graph shows a decline since 1971 but also suggests that Kestrels have leveled off.  The 10-year full season average is 236, so we need 21 more Kestrels this season to meet that average.  It appears this will happen, since our stats indicate that we should count about 22 more.       

We are approaching the 20,000th American Kestrel since the Hook Mountain Watch began in 1971.  On oct 14, our grand total for Kestrels is 19,926 leaving us another 74 to go.  Not likely to occur this season, we can look for a target 20,000 Kestrels by mid-September, 2015!

2014 Dailies

Broad-winged Hawks About Average and Earlier


By October 10 we counted 5427 Broad-winged Hawks, with 2442 on Sep 14, and 1349 on Sep 15.  This brings our BWs to a total that is 10% above average for the year.  It also pushed the BW window slightly earlier, with Sep 14 a new early date for more than 1000 hawks.  On the following graph the red dots are this year's numbers and the blue bars are the average for each date for the last 10 years.

Seasonal Distribution of Broad-winged Hawks at Hook

Notice how the red dots peak and taper off just ahead of the average.   This may not be meaningful, with BW numbers so variable.  But, it will be interesting to see what happens in the next five years or so.   Perhaps our BW window is shifting to earlier in the season.

Great Bald Eagles So Far
Bald Eagle Flies over Hook

We have already counted 114 Bald Eagles, 74% above our 10 year average!   Interestingly, we had exactly 114 BEs last year by Oct 10.  We set a new record of 162 BEs last year.  So, the big question this year:  Can we set another new record?  Our trends graph  suggests an exponential growth for this species, so a new record seems possible.  We need 49 more BEs to do that, so let's keep on counting!

2014 Dailies

Low Numbers of Sharp-shinned Hawks
Sharpie doubles back to dive at the owl
Sharp-shinned Hawk Doubles Back to Dive at the Owl

At 1147 by Oct 10, our Sharp-shinned numbers are 15 % below our 10-year average.  Last year, when we counted our 125,000th SS since 1971, our year total was 2048.  Our 10 year season average is 2000.  For five of the last 11 years SS have been under 2000, with the lowest at 1592 in 2003.  Peak numbers of SSs occur from Sep 10 to Oct 24, so we still have more to come. 

Sharpies are the thrillers, as they pop up to surprise us and swoop at the owl.  So, keep counting those Sharpies!  Let's get above average again this year.      See the trends graph.

2014 Dailies

2014 Broad-winged Hawks Above Average
5150 Broadwings by Sep 19th!
Broad-winged Hawk over Hook Mountain

The Broad-winged Hawks have been flying over Hook Mountain and throughout the Northeast in a broad band across the region. At Hook, we have had 2 days with more than one thousand, and an additional 4 days with hundreds. We counted 2448 BWs on Sunday, 9/14, and 1349 on Monday, 9/15. See the Fall 2014 Daily Counts for details.

The 2014 Season has begun at Hook

The Broadwings are coming!   Sep 11 2014
Today is Sep 11, and the Broad-winged window is open - at least the calendar window is open.  Only 43 Broad-winged Hawks have been counted so far this season.  Most BWs migrate over Hook during the 2 weeks between Sep 9 and Sep 25.    Check out the graph:

Seasonal Distribution of Broad-winged Hawks at Hook

The graph shows average counts of 100 or more for all days between 9/14 and 9/22.  Notice the very high peak on 9/17.  That reflects our really big count of 14,670 BWs on 9/17/2011. Last year we started the season a bit earlier with 262 BWs on Sep 9, 2013.  This year the 3 digit counts were still north of us in Vermont on Sep 9.

If you are looking for one of those exciting days with 1000 or more BWs, our data from the last 10 years includes 7 calendar days:
Peak Days in the last 10 years
Year Day Count Year Day Count
2004 9/19 1377 2009 9/19,20 2071,2074
2005 9/21 1336 2010 9/21 1507
2006 9/17,22 1022,1002 2011 9/17 14670
2007 9/16 1829 2012 9/16 1123
2008 9/16 1083 2013 9/15 1933
Using the data that you have helped us to collect, we see that more than 1000 BWs were counted on 9/16 in 3 years, on 9/17, 9/19, and 9/21 in 2 years each, and on 9/15, 9/20, and 9/22 in 1 year each.

Thus, the window for days with more than 1000 BWs appears to be from 9/15 to 9/22.

So, if we get big numbers of Broad-wings this year, they will be here soon.  Remember that Broad-winged Hawks migrate with the help of thermals, which form most readily on sunny days with light to moderate winds.

I hope to see you and the hawks on one of those days!

9/12/14  Update:   142 BWs today!  That brings us up to 185 for the season with lots more to come!  See the dailies for the most recent count.

  The Fall 2013 Daily Count  **      ** Hawk Watchers, Get Counted! **

We Made It!
*** We Have Counted More than 125,000 Sharpies since 1971!   ***
October 19, 2013

Almost 125,000 Sharp-shinned Hawks at Hook

Hook Mountain Update, Oct 7, 2013

Sharp-shinned Hawk, photo by Trudy Battaly        Our Sharp-shinned Hawks are approaching an all-time count of 125,000!  So, we have another big number record coming at us this season. 

As of Oct 7, 2013
we have counted 124,656 Sharp-shinned Hawks, with 344 more to go! 

Can we make that this season? 

We definitely can.  Check out the seasonal graph below.   (Vertical red line at 10/7)

This graph tells us several things. 

First, we are more than half way through the Sharp-shinned season, but there are still many Sharpies to come. 

Seasonal Sharp-shinned Hawks at Hook Mountain

Second, Sharpies are regulars at Hook, beginning the 2nd week in September and continuing through October.  We often refer to Sharpies as our "Bread and Butter" hawk, meaning that almost any time you come to Hook you can expect to see Sharpies.  They are a staple - a delightful staple, with fun behavior to watch.

Third, we can expect 10 to 75 Sharpies on any day during their season, with most days averaging above 20.  These numbers are averages of the years 2003 to 2012, so they are recent and a good representation of what we see.  For example, on 20 consecutive days this year (9/14 to 10/3) we had 19 days with more than 20 Sharpies, including a max of 310 on 9/26.   Our count this year is slightly higher than our 10 year average, so we should reach 125,000 easily.  The average season total for SSs is 1994, and the average from Oct 7 to the end of the season is 764.  We only need 344.   Check out our dailies.  

Sharpie behavior alone is enough for us to celebrate this species.  They zoom at the owl, they flap-flap-glide in characteristic accipiter fashion, and they glare at you when they pop out of the fog, flying by as the rain begins.  This is indeed a species to revere - our friend on the Hook!

So, will you be there to see the 125,000th Sharpie fly past Hook? 
There are only 344 more Sharpies to go!


 **  The Fall 2013 Daily Count  **      ** Hawk Watchers, Get Counted! **
***   We Have Counted More Than 500,000 Hawks Since 1971!   ***
Thanks to our wonderful counters! 

On Sep 18 2013 the 500,000th hawk was counted at the Hook Mountain Hawk Watch.  We have continued with the tradition of the hawk watchers before us, counting those majestic raptors as they migrate past Hook. 

Stiles Thomas lead the way in 1971, joining along with several other hawk watchers in the northeast who were exploring hawk migration.  The outcome of those early efforts include the formation of the NorthEast Hawk Watch, and many years of hawk count data from Hook Mountain and other hawk watches throughout the northeast.  The intent was to learn the basics of raptor migration - where, when do the hawks migrate?  Which species at what season?  Data from Hook has contributed to that understanding. 

We depend on our counters, who continue in the tradition of those early days, to collect the data in the continuing study of the migratory patterns of raptors, with the hope that we can better understand population trends, and contribute to raptor conservation. 

Of course, when each of us sees a Bald Eagle fly overhead, or marvels at the flash of color from an American Kestrel, or feels the wind whoosh as a Merlin zooms through, we are impressed by the sheer joy of raptor migration.   Isn't it grand that such joy, when counted, also contributes to the conservation of the raptors we love?

Thank you everyone.  Your contribution matters!

  Radar for Sep 16, 2013, showing migration.

Countdown to 500,000
***   We Made It!!   ***


The 2013 hawk season continues to be good.                                                                              
September 7, 2013

We are up to 214 hawks total so far, with 78 Osprey and 24 Bald Eagles.  It is still too early to say it is a good year for these species,but these numbers are well above the 9 year average of 36 OS and 7 BE by Sep 7.   I have added the cumulative averages to the 2013 Dailies, so you can compare this year's numbers to previous years.

Broad-winged Hawk migration coming

The Broad-wings have begun to trickle through in small numbers, totaling 37 at this point.  I updated the seasonal graph for Broad-wings.  Our low numbers in 2012 brought the averages for the peak day (Sep 17) down below 2,000, but the pattern has stayed the same.  Dates with average numbers of Broad-wings above 200 range from Sep 15 to Sep 21.   This is a very narrow window of just one week.  Of course, this is based on an average, so there are days before and after that window that could have hundreds of BWs also. 

Immature Broad-wing Hawk at Hook

When will the 500,000th Hawk be Counted?

At this point (Sep 7) we have counted a total of 495,256 hawks.  So, we are now a little closer to the magic 500,000, with 4,744 more to go.   With BW season approaching, we just might make that 500,000 in less than 2 weeks.  So, be sure to check the 2013 Dailies regularly in the next couple of weeks.   

September 1, 2013

Osprey begin migration in August
Osprey begin migrating in August

Join us!  Help us get to 500,000! 

A good start to 2013!
It's September and we begin the 2013 Hook season with 65 hawks (as of Sep 1), including 50 Osprey.   Thanks to those who counted in August for a very good beginning!

2012 - some good numbers
Last year's totals brought a record number of Black Vultures (64),  and our 1st ever Mississippi Kite.  The MIKI was on Aug 30, 2012, so keep your eyes open - they are early migrants.  We also counted 410 Osprey in 2012.  The only year with more was 1989 with 435 OS.  Almost as good as the OS were the 177 Red-shouldered Hawks.  We have only had 3 years with more, with a max of 194 in 1999.

There were 323 Kestrels last year, our first count above 300 in 5 years.  Our Kestrel numbers bottomed out in 2008 and 2009 with just slightly more than 150.  Let's hope that last year's rebound represents the beginning of a real recovery.

A Target for this Year!
The total number of all hawks counted at Hook since 1971 was 495,042 before this season began.  Add the 65 counted so far, and we only need 4,893 more to reach a grand total of 500,000 hawks counted at Hook!

       Will you be there to see the 500,000th hawk counted at Hook?

       Which species do you think it will be?  See you on the Hook!

    Check the dailies to see our progress.

*** Red-tailed Hawk Attacks Bald Eagle over Hook! ***

Paddy French
at Hook Mountain,  30+ years

  We have counted more than 18,000 Hawks for the Season!    See this season's count   







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!


  Hook on the Radio (start 9:45)


Celebrate Our Counters

Hawk watching is great fun everywhere you watch.  At Hook, we watch hawks with a view of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Empire State Building to our south, the Bear Mountain Tower to the north, and the mighty Hudson River below us.  We are fortunate to have volunteers who are devoted to the hawks.  They spot the hawks, identify them, count them, and keep careful records.  While having fun watching these magnificent raptors in action, they contribute to the better understanding of raptor population trends.  We celebrate our counters, with special thanks for every data sheet they submit.  And we thank all the hawk watchers who help us spot the hawks and accomplish our part of the raptor conservation mission.  If you have helped us count, thank you!   If you have never been up to Hook, come join us!  We can use your eyes! 

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:  11/01/2015  

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:  11/01/2015