2009 Count

  • We have 2 new records this year – Bald Eagle and Turkey Vulture.
  • A  Rough-legged Hawk made an appearance for the 1st time since 1991.
  • We counted 10,450 hawks, the highest since 1999, including 6800 BWs.
  • We counted only 154 AK this year – another dismal low, and our 2nd year less than 200.

  The Year of the Bald Eagle

This was definitely the Year of the Bald Eagle.  Wow, did we break the record!  We counted 125 Bald Eagles this year!  That is 43 more than our previous record of 82 in 2008.  Prior to then, our high was 77 BEs in 2001.  It is truly amazing to see the recovery of this once-endangered species. 


Bald Eagle: 

new BE videos
new GE video

This season, to     November 19 125!
Previous Record, 2008: 82
Average since 1971: 26.6
Average last 10 years: 63.5


  Record Turkey Vultures

We also counted a record number of Turkey Vultures this year, totaling 696.  Our previous record was 557 in 2006, so this is a substantial increase:  139 more TVs than 2006, and 468 more than last year!   Thanks to all of you who took the extra effort to watch those TVs disappear and not circle back.

  First Rough-legged Hawk since 1991!

The Rough-legged Hawk (dark phase) seen on Nov 2, 2009 was the 20th on record at Hook.  The year record is 3 in both 1975 and 1977.  Rough-legged Hawk is the third rarest species at Hook, after our one Swallow-tailed Kite last year and two Swainson’s Hawks, one each in two successive years, 1991 and 1992.  After Rough-leg, the next rarest species at Hook is Golden Eagle.  We have counted 162 GEs since 1971, eight times the number of Rough-legs.  So,

having a Rough-leg fly over Hook this year is indeed a special event! 

(2 new videos - GE on Hook and a light phase RL on winter territory )

First sighting
of a
Rough-legged Hawk
at the
Hook Mountain
Hawk Watch

since 1991

Dark phase
Nov 2, 2009

Dark phase Rough-legged Hawk

  Broad-winged Hawk:  2 days with more than 2000

The Broadwing count of 6,803 is our best since 2001, with more than 2000 BWs counted on two separate days and more than 1000 counted on a third day.  (See The Best Broadwing Hawks in 7 Years.)  Many of the BWs were in kettles that passed right over Hook, with beautiful views.  Some BWs were not as close.  Thanks to all those watchers who helped pick them out of the clear blue sky.  Your keen observation skills are essential to our count.

2009:  The best Broad-winged Hawks in 7 Years

Click for video of Broad-winged Hawk  

2074 BWs on 9/20!
2071 BWs on 9/19!
1411 BWs on 9/15!

The Broad-winged Hawks (BW) are flying over and around Hook Mountain!  Tuesday, 9/15, was a big day with 1411 BWs, but Saturday, 9/19, was even bigger, AND Sunday, 9/20 was bigger yet, by 3 hawks, logging in at 2074 BWs.  We counted 2071 BWs in one day, and 2074 on the next!!  That brings our total for this year to 6658 BWs, the best BW count we have had in 7 years.  And, we can still get more, with another week or so before the end of the BW season.   For the year to year trends for BW, see Hook Mountain Broad-winged Hawks:  1971 – 2008.

Celebrate our counters!

Click for BW video



  Other Species

Counts for two other species were above the average of the last 5 years:  37 Black Vultures, and 36 Peregrine Falcons.   Species below the average of the last 5 years were:   82 Northern Harriers,  154 American Kestrels, 36 Merlins, and 5 Golden Eagles. 

  Northern Harriers:  well below average  (see graph)

At 31% below the 10 year average and 40% below the average since 1985, the Northern Harrier count of 82 is the 5th lowest count at Hook.  The four lower counts were:  69 in 1992, 70 in 1996, 71 in 1991, and 76 in 2004.  (Video:  NH at Hook)

  American Kestrel:  Cause for Concern!

American Kestrel continues to be a species with cause for concern.  (See graph )  The count of 154 this year is basically the same as the rock bottom AK count last year of 152.  These are the only two years since 1971 with a count under 200.  Our Kestrel count dropped below 300 in 2003 and, with the exception of 2007, has been less than 300 ever since.  These last two years look dismally like a continuing decrease in Kestrels, with annual totals less than 200.  See Kestrel Trends at Fire Island for possible causes for this decline.  We can only hope that our next few years at Hook will show that these very low counts are a turning point as Kestrel populations recover. 

  The two Big G's

As for our two Big G’s – Goldens and Gos; seeing these species is always a thrill!  There were 5 Golden Eagles - a little less than the average for the last five years, and 5 Northern Goshawks - at the average for the last five years, but definitely better than last year's count of 1.  The Golden average is weighted by the very unusual high count of 20 in 2006, the only year with double digits.


  Thank You Counters

Special thanks to those who submitted the data sheets.  You make Hook Mountain a hawk watch!  Thanks also to all those who helped find the hawks and count them.  We need your eyes! 

We watch hawks for the thrill of seeing these magnificent raptors.  We count hawks to accomplish raptor conservation.  Thank you!

Trudy Battaly, compiler

Hook Mtn FIRE NEHW Bat's Bytes