Grand Canyon: ‘Tis the Season to See Broad-wings!

19 September 2016

Text by Benjamin West

Peak season has arrived at the Grand Canyon HawkWatch!   We saw our thousandth bird of the season, a Red-tailed Hawk, on Wednesday, September 14th, and our count as of September 18th is 1,971.  We’re only three weeks into the season, but we’ve already surpassed the historical season averages for both Osprey and Swainson’s Hawk, with 45 Ospreys and 49 Swainson’s to date, with historical averages of 44 and 45, respectively.  Broad-winged Hawks also made a grand appearance last week.  Our count over four days was 19 Broad-wings, compared to a season average of 15.  We saw a whopping ten Broad-wings on Sunday, September 18, including a rare dark morph.  Another cool treat was an uncommon dark morph Ferruginous Hawk.  We’ve had some cool non-raptor sightings as well, including a sage thrasher, hundreds of migrating violet-green swallows, and a gray fox.

On the educational side of things, we’re wrapping up our second weekend of interpretive programs, educating visitors about migrating raptors at the Grand Canyon and inviting them to the Yaki Point observation site after the presentation.  We’ve had visitors from Arizona, Oregon, Illinois, Pennsylvania, the UK, Norway, Slovakia, and Malaysia, to name a just a few places, come watch raptors and see condors at our site.  As of Sunday, September 18, we’ve had 868 visitors.

For anyone planning on taking a trip to our site to see Broad-winged Hawks or other migrating raptors, we recommend a sunny day with light winds, preferably coming from the north.  Looking at the forecast as of Sunday the 18th, I’d avoid Tuesday (the 20th) or Thursday (the 22nd) due to potential storms/strong winds. Wednesday has a small chance of storms, but Friday currently looks good!