Text by Ben West
It’s a bit hard to believe, but we have less than a week of raptor counting left at the Grand Canyon HawkWatch! As the season winds down, we are not seeing as many hawks as we did a few weeks ago. Our two biggest days this past week each had 45 raptors, a far cry from the 366 raptor day we had a month ago on September 30. In fact, we actually had more visitors to the site than raptors this past week, with 211 raptors and 288 visitors.
Despite the reduced volume of birds, we’ve still had some good sightings. We watched a beautiful adult Bald Eagle soar over our heads after flying by a mule train descending the South Kaibab Trail. The mule riders below us exclaimed excitedly when they noticed the eagle. Unfortunately, that was the only eagle of any species observed since last week’s blog post. We saw four Ferruginous Hawks at Yaki Point this past week, putting our count at nine for the season, passing the historical seasonal average of seven. Not one but two of those Ferruginous Hawks were rare dark morphs. We matched the season record for migrating Peregrine Falcons this week with a current season total of 19, a record previously set in 2007. That makes three raptor species this season with record counts, the others being Prairie Falcons (see blog post from October 24) and Northern Harriers. Speaking of Northern Harriers, our harrier count keeps climbing! We’re at 67 harriers as of Sunday, October 30, up from 63 last week and high above the historical season record of 56.
In non-raptor news, we had another close encounter with a desert bighorn ram. The encounter was so close, in fact, that the ram nearly walked into one of the counters as he walked up the trail from the count site! Some interesting non-raptor migrants delighted the bird-loving crew, including Horned Larks and Evening Grosbeaks. We hope for more interesting birds, raptors and otherwise, to close out the season during our final week!
Thanks to all who visited the site this season, followed our blog adventures, and everyone else who put their eyes to the skies. We will see you next season!