Goshawks, Falcons, and Eagles, oh my!

24 October 2016 Written by  
An immature Northern Goshawk charging by An immature Northern Goshawk charging by

Text by Casey Weissburg

We are now just two weeks away from count’s end here at Yaki Point HawkWatch, and our daily counts reflect the late season.  Our week started out surprisingly big, though, with a late push of straggling migrants; three days over 80, and one even above 150, gave us the boost we needed to blow past the season average for this site.  However, the number of raptors migrating dropped precipitously afterwards, taking species diversity with it.

Despite the expected decline in numbers, we saw some great birds this week.  Three close-flying Northern Goshawks more than doubled our count for this species, from two to five.  Our Merlin peak continued into the first two days of the week, bringing our season total of this uncommon falcon to a whopping 19—only three birds shy of the record 22.  We also had two late Prairie Falcons, leap-frogging over the record high of nine, to ten, for this even less common falcon!  Peregrine Falcons seem to have stagnated at 17, still well above the average of 11, but overall we seem to be having an incredible year for our low-count falcon species.

On a more somber note, the American Kestrel has been absent from our count for four days in a row, and our season total is still almost 200 birds below the season average of 684, a 29% decrease compared to the average and a 16% decrease from last year’s season total, which was already below average.

In happier news, the eagles have arrived!  Our first Golden Eagle flew past observation on Monday, starting off a great week during which we had one eagle almost every day, and even two Bald Eagles on Sunday!

These massive birds are always exciting to spot, even at great distances! Although our totals of 3 Golden and 6 Bald are still well below their respective averages of 7 and 18, we hope to see this trend continue through the end of the count!

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