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

Hook Mountain:  Fall 2012
2012 Dailies

Oct 20, 2012

The Latest News!   RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS 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 years.  (See since 1971)

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.
Red-shouldered Hawk Adult at Hook

Hook Mountain:  Fall 2012
2012 Dailies

Oct 14, 2012

The Great News!   GOLDEN EAGLES

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. 
 (See:  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   -  Osprey, Bald Eagles, and American Kestrel

Osprey with Fish


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 Osprey.  That would require an outstanding late season.  In 2007 we counted 24 Ospry from Oct 13 to the end of the season, so 48 is a really big stretch.  Thanks to all of you who just kept watching on those bad weather days when the Osprey came through.


Bald Eagles are doing well this season.  At  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 record.  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 Eagle.


Our Kestrel count of 298 is currently 44% above the 8-year average for this date, and also more than our 8 - year season average of 228!  It looks like we finally broke the 200 barrier of the last 4 years and  can 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 reach.
American Kestrel Shows String of Pearls and Beautiful Color 

The OK News - Sharp-sinned Hawks and Cooper's Hawks


Both Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper's Hawks are at average counts, with 1468 Sharpies and 141 Coops.  These accipiters are our regulars, delighting us all with close flights over Hook, and frequent passes at the owl.


The Not-so-Good News  - Broad-winged Hawks, Northern Harriers, and Merlins

Beyond our very low Broad-winged Hawks numbers this year, other species below average are Northern Harrier and Merlin.  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.

More to Come

The Red-tails, Red-shoulders, and Turkey Vultures are beginning to move.  I always think of Halloween as being the Golden Eagle / Northern Goshawk time!  On Oct 31 we counted 3 Gos in 2007 and 2 in 2011.  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  specialties! 


Paddy French
at Hook Mountain,  30+ years

Hook Mountain:  Fall 2012
2012 Dailies

Sep 22, 2012 - for most species, it has been a very good year

This has been a very interesting and somewhat different September season at Hook, with a couple of very pleasant surprises.  Overall, for most species it has been a very good year!

 Low Number of Broad-winged Hawks

Broad-winged Hawk at Hook

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 patterns.  This year we have had weather fronts almost weekly, and that has most likely encouraged them to keep moving, preventing any buildup of large numbers.  They spread out across the Northeast both geographically and temporally.


Good American Kestrels

Thankfully, our Kestrels have been doing well this season.  There were 52 counted on Sep 15!  That was a single day!  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 challenge!  Thanks to all who found and counted those Kestrels!  Hopefully, we can reach 332. 


Kestrels seem to be recovering with good numbers this fall. 


Good Osprey

Our Osprey numbers are about double our 8 year average.  We counted 289 by Sep 22, compared to the 8-year cumulative average of 146.  We have even passed 270, the 8-year seasonal average.   Osprey are sometimes referred to as bad weather birds because they will continue to migrate even in rainy weather.  On Sep 8, with 'wicked windy weather' we counted 101 Osprey!   Our 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 9/18/2005.  Perhaps we can top the 8- year seasonal high of 345. 

Good Bald Eagles

We counted 63 Bald Eagles by Sep 22, 84% higher than our 8-year average.
  Our seasonal 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.
Bald Eagle adult, one of 16 counted at Hook on 9/16/12

Hook Mountain:  Fall 2012
2012 Dailies

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 early.
re:  Videos of breeding pair at Sterling Forest   re:  Early migration of MIKI at Corpus Christi

Mississippi Kite at Sterling Forest
Mississippi Kite at Sterling Forest Collects Sticks for Nest

2011 Northeast Day Records  

The 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.


American Kestrels

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 250.



Kestrel at Hook,  9/1/12

Northern Harrier
  We have counted more than 18,000 Hawks for the Season!    See this season's count   
  We have counted more than 16,000 Broad-winged Hawks for the Season!    See this season's count   







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

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! 

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.

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:  10/5/14