Broad-winged Hawk Migration is NOW!

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

In my opinion, the greatest wildlife spectacle that occurs in the northern Delaware Piedmont is the fall migration of the Broad-winged Hawk.  Ashland Hawk Watch at the Ashland Nature Center, is the perfect location to witness the amazing sight of hundreds or thousands of these raptors migrating through in a single day.  This is the week to venture to the Hawk Watch to witness this amazing migration exhibition!

Broad-winged Hawks are moving through Ashland Nature Center this week. Visit the Hawk Watch to view hundreds or even thousands in a day. Photo by Matt Sileo

The Broad-winged Hawk is a raptor of extensively forested areas, such as those in New England and eastern Canada.  Very few Broad-winged Hawks are thought to nest in Delaware due to the extent of deforestation here.  Thousands of Broad-wings from up north migrate in large groups that may contain hundreds of birds travelling together.  These birds pass through the northern Delaware Piedmont on their way to South America for the winter.  Their movement through Delaware lasts about a week to 10 days.  Few Broad-wings migrate along the coastal plain of Delaware.

Here are the numbers from this past week.  On September 16, we observed 2,910 Broad-winged Hawks pass Ashland.  On the 17th, we saw 579, and on the 18th…278.  We are reasonably sure that more are on their way, due to thousands of birds still being reported at hawk watch sites further north.  Treat yourself to a taste of fall and witness migration as it happens through the beautiful Broad-winged Hawk.

This perched Broad-winged Hawk was a bird that nested in northern Chester County, PA in 2008. These crow-sized raptors feed on frogs, mice, birds, snakes, and other things they find on the forest floor. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

The Ashland Hawk Watch is a joint project between the Delaware Nature Society, Delmarva Ornithological Society, and the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife – Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.  Ashland Hawk Watch is free and open to the public, and operates daily with staff and volunteers on-site from September 1 through November 30.  For the latest Ashland Hawk Watch hawk migration data, visit the HawkCount website.  There is still plenty of hawk-watching left to do this fall.  Take some time to enjoy the views and the raptors at the Ashland Hawk Watch.   

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