Hawk Mountain soars into Autumn with kick-off events

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Hawk Mountain invites visitors to watch and monitor the annual passage of raptor migrants as they move south during the Autumn Hawk Watch, held daily August 15 through December 15, at the Sanctuary’s famous North Lookout. Trail fees apply for non-members and cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Members are admitted free year-round, and memberships can be purchased online or at the Visitor Center.

“Autumn migration is one of my favorite times of the year here at the Sanctuary,” says Sean Grace, President of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. “Seeing such a large group of hawks at once is truly breathtaking and I encourage visitors to come and share such a unique sight.”

During the count, Sanctuary staff, trainees, and volunteers will be stationed at the lookouts to help visitors spot and identify raptors including broad-winged hawks, kestrels, vultures, ospreys, and bald eagles. An average 18,000 raptors pass the Sanctuary each autumn. For raptor enthusiasts and those who cannot make it to Hawk Mountain, daily counts are posted throughout the season at hawkmountain.org.

Equipped with binoculars and a full daypack, visitors are invited to spend the day at North Lookout to enjoy the breathtaking autumn colors and soaring raptors. Binoculars can be rented at the Visitor Center, and staff members there can offer tips and suggestions for trails and lookouts. The nearby South Lookout may be preferable to those with small children or with limited mobility, and it can be reached using the wheelchair-accessible Silhouette Trail.

In celebration of the start of autumn migration, Hawk Mountain will also be hosting a day of activities for visitors of all ages. The Off to a Flying Start: Migration Kick-off will be on Saturday, August 10, and the day starts at 9 a.m. with a guided bird walk to find songbirds and raptors with Hawk Mountain naturalist, Barb Ritzheimer. Many activities will be happening simultaneously, which includes kids activities from 10 to 2, learning how to attract wildlife to your yard from 10 to 2, and learning the key field marks to find and identify raptors in the sky with Hawk Mountain’s education interns at South Lookout. Visitors can also explore several information tables about binoculars from Zeiss and Opticron, ticks with L.L. Bean, and getting involved at Hawk Mountain. At both 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Raptors Up Close program will give visitors of all ages the chance to learn about and see live raptors, hosted by Craig Beck. Finally, win some prizes at the Mountain Raffle Drawing at noon, and all proceeds support the Sanctuary’s conservation efforts. Tickets must be purchased by 11:45 a.m.

Aside from the attraction of the autumn scenery, there will be more events than ever this year at the Mountain! In September, keep an eye out for the 85th anniversary historical marker commemoration, the Fall Native Plant Sale, Autumn Lecture series, Educator Workshops, and art events.

Information about all of these programs can be found at hawkmountain.org/events. The 2,500-acre Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and is open to the public year-round by trail-fee or membership, which in turn supports the non-profit organization’s raptor conservation mission and local-to-global research, training, and education programs. To learn more about Hawk Mountain or other programs, please call 610-756-6961 or visit hawkmountain.org.

(Information from Gigi Romano)

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