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Hook Mountain:  Fall 2011 Summary
2011 Dailies

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 Video, real time and slow motion.

  Second highest BW day ever at Hook!

74 Merlins migrated past Hook, Fall 2011

Species Above Average

Our other success this season was the 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 Black Vulture, 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 another Short-eared Owl on Hook.  This one was flushed from roost leaving a pellet and a some prey behind.

Species Near Average

Both Osprey and 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

The 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.

The 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 early November.

Northern Harrier

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. 

Hawk 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.  

We have wonderful hawk watchers!  We need you all!

Thank you everyone for a successful 2011 Season!



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

Hook Update  10/9/2011


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 counters!

Good News

Osprey  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 Eagle (9%), Sharp-shinned Hawk (24%), Cooper’s Hawk (65%), Merlin (96%), and Peregrine Falcon (67%).  Both Red-shouldered Hawk 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 through.

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 years and http://www.battaly.com/hook/HMSS.pdf for historical data.

Not-So-Good News

Both Northern Harrier (-18%) and American Kestrel (-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!

What to Look For

Northern 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!

Golden 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!


  We have counted more than 16,000 Broad-winged Hawks for the Season!    See this season's count   
14,670 Broad-winged Hawks at Hook
Sep 17, 2011                   **iPhone**

Experience Hook: Scenes, People & Chimney Swifts


The 2011 Season Begins!
2011:  This Year's Count


Osprey flies just over our heads at Hook

It Looks Like an Osprey Year
Sep 10, 2011 

The 2011 Hawk Watch Season at Hook Mountain has begun with more rain days than usual, but also more Ospreys than usual. We have already counted 78 Osprey!  To put that number into perspective, since 2004 our average number of Osprey by Sep 9th is 35.  Last year our total Osprey for the year was 340, and that was more than both the 10 year average of 271 and the 25 year average of 283.  Our record number of Osprey occurred in 1989 with 435.  With 78% of the Osprey through by the end of September, we will know in a few weeks if we are headed for a new record.



Broadwing Season Is Approaching:  Get Ready!

Most of our Broad-winged Hawks migrate through our area between Sep 15 and Sep 21, beginning less than a week away!  Within that window, the biggest numbers will be flying over Hook when there are good thermals, so watch the weather patterns.  Check out the Seasonal Distribution Graph for Broadwings and Arthur Green's animation relating Broadwing migration to weather.

This is a wonderful season to hike up to Hook, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and marvel in the wonder of hawk migration.   Take a peek at the scene:  Experience Hook Mountain, a Panoramic View.



Hook Mountain Hawk Watch
2011 Calendar







New Videos: 

Bald Eagles

Golden Eagle

Rough-legged Hawk

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!

This year's Copperhead

  Hook on the Radio (start 9:45)


Season Summary
    Oct 24: Year of the BE         Oct 9: Good Season           Sep 20: BW Season


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! 


at Hook

Sep 19, 2009

It was a treat for our dedicated hawk counters to see this beautifully marked Copperhead after seeing more than 2000 Broad-winged Hawks. 

What a day!


Red-tailed Hawk at Hook Mountain, photo by Trudy Battaly

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:  01/12/2016  

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

  Find the Action here!


Come to the Hook

and watch for the


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:  01/12/2016