Since the 1990s the Kittatinny Ridge has been recognized as one of the preeminent corridors for North American raptor migration, concentrating more birds than any other corridor in eastern North America, excepting the Atlantic coast. More recently Pennsylvania designated the Ridge one of eight Conservation Landscapes in the state, heightening its importance for conservation.
In fall 2023 for the first time ever a grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to Hawk Mountain is ensuring that all six historical hawk count sites will be manned daily from September 1 to end of November. This effort involves both volunteer and seasonal counters working together to tally migrants daily with additional support from PA Game Commission, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, Berks Community Foundation, Lehigh Gap Nature Center and local birding groups along the Ridge.
Key goals of the project are to compare raptor counts across the sites as well as to assess education opportunities and visitor numbers. Preliminary education outreach will be initiated using materials modeled after Hawk Mountain visitor education materials. We expect to reveal some surprises in this inaugural Ridge-wide raptor and raptor watchers survey. Feel free to join the counters at one of the sites stretching from Little Gap, in Danielsville, west to Waggoner’s Gap in Carlisle.
Preparing for this effort has involved many steps from hiring seasonal counters to holding training workshops and vegetation clearing at historic sites. One of the sites, the 183 Hawk Watch in Bethel/Summit Station, was overgrown with non-native shrubs. With approval from the Appalachian Trail and hard work from volunteers from the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, the visibility has improved.
For the latest counts from the Kittatinny Ridge, log on to hawkcount.org and select one of the sites shown on the map. All sites are open to the public with directions and maps as well as daily counts easily accessed at hawkcount.org. For directions select Find a Hawk Watch, Pennsylvania.
For further information on the project: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Laurie Goodrich, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary