Looking For Hawks on Migration
Watching hawks migrate can be done anywhere along their migration route. There are well known hotspots where hawks can be seen in great numbers on migration. But you don’t need to travel far to see hawks on the move. If you are on a flyway, you can look up to see them wafting south on currents, or using the front end of a cold front for a push of speed. Food is also on their minds and some of the best views of hawks migrating are when they come down out of the heights to hunt.
Check out communications towers for Peregrine Falcons. They often use the towers both for a vantage point and also because they can position themselves at the same height as migrating songbirds. They will look like a tiny dark speck as they sit perched (see the bird perched in the middle of the grid?)…just waiting for a flock of small shorebirds to fly by during the day or songbirds at dusk or dawn.
Peregrines can also be seen perched on beaches – sometimes on fences or posts, or even just sitting on the sand. Small shorebirds like Sanderlings or Wilson’s Plovers are their target here, and you can watch them herd the flock into a tight ball and then break one bird free hoping to nab it for a meal.
I was watching a Coopers Hawk the other day worrying a flock of starlings into a tight ball, which he then flew through. He was unsuccessful in the hunt, which was a surprise, but then again, even the best hunters don’t always score.
Look for migrating raptors in the sky of course, but also wherever there might be easy prey. Sometimes you can get even better views of them hunting than riding the winds above.