Home Outdoor education Participate in spring migration monitoring at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Participate in spring migration monitoring at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary


Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton welcomes families, nature lovers and birdwatchers to the mountain for spring migration monitoring, Raptorthon fundraising and weekend education programs.

“The story of Hawk Mountain is a story of hope – from shooting ranges to sanctuary,” said Jamie Dawson, director of education, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. “By learning about the history and current work of Hawk Mountain, I hope visitors will be able to know that each individual’s actions can truly make a positive difference – to raptor conservation and beyond.”

The 2,500-acre sanctuary is the world’s premier refuge for birds of prey. Open to the public year-round, entry fees and memberships support the non-profit organization’s raptor conservation mission and local and global research, training and education programs.

What makes Hawk Mountain a great place to visit is the “beautiful sanctuary with great views; great hiking trails; fun, diverse and stimulating educational programs; live raptors; and incredible conservation science projects in action,” said Dawson.

Lisa Mitchell – MediaNews Group,

Hawk Mountain Raptors’ signature live raptor program Up Close! will take place every Saturday and Sunday. (File Photo – Lisa Mitchell, MediaNews Group)

When visiting the Migration Sanctuary, visitors are invited to participate in Spring Weekend programs held every Saturday and Sunday throughout the countdown.

Hawk Mountain’s live raptor program, Raptors Up Close!, sponsored by M&T Bank, takes place in the ADA-accessible outdoor amphitheater.

The Name That Raptor program at Laurelwood Niche teaches birders to identify factors such as silhouettes, behavior and markings, and as they travel back in time to the sanctuary’s founding in 1934 with the History program of Hawk Mountain.

This spring, the Sanctuary hosted interns from Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, and Italy, as well as local interns from Pennsylvania and surrounding areas.

“​Our international interns are back!” said Dawson. “We did not welcome international interns in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic.”

International interns who study long-distance migration patterns offer discussions of their work and allow hands-on sampling of the tools used in the field during the trapping and tracking program located near South Lookout.


The Hawk Migration Association of North America is hosting the Raptorthon 2022 fundraiser on Earth Day, April 22.

The sanctuary’s director of conservation science, Dr. Laurie Goodrich, and spring conservation interns will scan the skies for returning migrating raptors.

Fundraiser participants can pledge per bird, make a lump sum donation, or join the association on the mountain. The Hawk Mountain Counting for Conservation team will be at the North Lookout and South Lookout from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“By supporting Hawk Mountain, you are supporting local environmental stewardship, raptor conservation science, education, and other organizations around the world that are also working hard to protect raptors,” Dawson said. .

spring migration

During the Spring Migration Count through May 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., staff, interns and volunteers will be perched at the North Lookout to help visitors discover and identify raptors, including Broad-banded Hawks. wings, redtails, ospreys, bald eagles and Suite.

The sanctuary has been monitoring the spring migration of raptors since the 1960s and reports an average of about 1,000 raptors each 45-day season. Typical one-day peak counts can reach over 100 birds in mid to late April, especially on days with southerly winds and cloud cover. Daily counts are posted throughout the season at hawkmountain.org/count.

“Our migration count is extremely important for raptor conservation because, as the oldest raptor migration count in the world (since 1934), it provides long-term data on population trends of raptor species,” Dawson said. “Without our long-term migration count data, we wouldn’t know the baseline populations of these raptors.”

Dawson explained that without knowing normal population levels, they wouldn’t know when populations begin to decline.

“And why should we care about the health of raptor populations? Well, raptors are top predators, so they play an important role in our ecosystem — keeping nature in balance,” Dawson said. “As top predators, raptors are also bio-indicators, which means that if there is a healthy population of raptors, it implies that the whole ecosystem is healthy because it can support top predators. Conversely, if populations of top predators start to decline, that’s a big warning sign that something is wrong with the ecosystem.

Since 2000, International Conservation Science interns have helped conduct the daily count at the North Lookout, learning migration counting techniques from experienced Sanctuary volunteers and staff.

Dawson hopes a visit to Hawk Mountain will provide “inspiration to take action for raptor conservation” as well as “wonderful memories in nature enjoying the beautiful sanctuary.”

Those wishing to hike to the North Lookout and enjoy the views and migrating raptors should wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for a walk over rocky terrain.

The nearby South Lookout may be preferable for those with young children or mobility issues and can be reached using a 900-foot-long ADA-accessible Silhouette Trail with benches.

Lisa Mitchell – MediaNews Group,

View from the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary South Lookout, which may be preferable for those with young children or mobility issues and can be reached using a 900-foot-long ADA-accessible Silhouette Trail with benches. (Lisa Mitchell – MediaNews Group)

Trail fees apply to non-members and cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 6-12. Tickets can be purchased at hawkmountain.ticketleap.com. Members are admitted free year-round and memberships can be purchased online or at the Visitor Center.

More information about the programs and when they take place can be found at hawkmountain.org/weekendprograms.

To learn more about Hawk Mountain, call 610-756-6961 or visit www.hawkmountain.org.