Hawk Watching This Fall — Watching the Kettle

Hawk Viewing This Fall — Watching the Kettle

raptors_kettling Hawk watching stations are great places to visit during hawk migration. You can watch Accipiters dive at each other, or see eagles soaring. Many avid hawk watchers love to see Broad-winged Hawk migration because Broad-winged Hawks are the only hawks that are gregarious on migration. That is, they like to migrate together! Many other hawks end up together because they get pushed into the same areas to stay over land during migration, but Broad-winged Hawks actually seek each other out and migrate in huge numbers together. In fact, there are migration points in Texas that have counted around 250,000 Broad-winged Hawks in a single day!

As Broad-winged Hawks migrate they work together to find rising columns of air that form above warm patches on the earth’s surface. Together they ride these columns to the top, then they glide to the next one. They can form huge groups, with over 1,000 Broad-winged Hawks in a single column. There are so many birds all circling and rising together that they look almost like boiling water, which is why people call these groupings “kettles”.

Broad-winged Hawk migration can be viewed in many different places. A few hawk migration points known for large numbers of Broad-winged Hawks include  Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, Smith Point in Texas and Hawk Ridge in Duluth, Minnesota.