Wind, Cold, Clouds, and Raptors – A Perfect November Day at Hawk Mountain

The Hawk Mountain program left with a group of 8 from Ashland Nature Center yesterday morning.  The sun was shining brightly as we ventured north out of Delaware.  Wind was out of the northwest and hopes were high for a good hawk flight at Hawk Mountain.  I like going to this historical birding location in November.  There are fewer crowds, you really feel like the seasons are changing and that winter is barrelling in from the north.  You can see it in the brown leaves, feel it in the cold wind, and through the migrating raptors, it is alive.

As we approached Hawk Mountain, the typical gloom of an overcast November day descended as the sun retreated.  Would we really need the extra layers, gloves, and hats we brought?  Visions of birding in t-shirts (for most of us) were quickly disappearing. 

The view from the North Lookout at Hawk Mountain.  Soon after settling in, the first bird that came by was a Northern Goshawk.  I knew it would be a good day.

Golden Eagle is what comes to mind when I visit Hawk Mountain in November.  For the majority of people that go on this trip, it is the bird that is most hoped for.  This symbol of wilderness makes its way through the Pennsylvania Mountains now, heading south.  We saw three of these magnificent birds yesterday, two of them very closely, and all three were adults.

Here is the juvenile Golden Eagle model that hangs in the Hawk Mountain Visitor’s Center.  The adults we saw had virtually no white on the wings and tail.

The photo below shows the typical look we had of most birds yesterday, silhouetted against the dark clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Red-tailed Hawk flew past us at the north lookout with a backdrop of gray skies.  It was difficult to see field marks, so most identification was based on shape and flight styles.

As the cold wind whipped, all but one in the group was appropriately bundled up.   Thankfully, this crazy birder was warmed by the sight of lots of raptors! 

Below is a list of what we saw …

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2 , Cooper’s Hawk – 3, Northern Goshawk – 1, Red-shouldered Hawk – 8, Red-tailed Hawk – 29, Golden Eagle – 3, Bald Eagle – 2, plus about 20 migrating Common Loons, a flock of 30 Pine Siskin, and some playful Ravens flying past. 

Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

1 thought on “Wind, Cold, Clouds, and Raptors – A Perfect November Day at Hawk Mountain”

  1. Joe,
    That guy really looks nuts. I enjoyed the day. Thanks for the great leadership. My Golden Eagle shot is really bad.
    Oh well. It just means I have to do better.
    I will see you sometime soon, I am sure.
    Thanks, Hank

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