Where can I find the locations of your hawkwatches?
HWI runs a network of count sites across the western half of the US. If you head to our Migration Network page on our website, you can find the coordinates and driving directions to each of our sites. If you can’t make the trip to one of our sites, you can use HawkCount to find a site in your area.
What should I bring with me to go hawkwatching?
This answer will differ depending on the climate at your site (and weather at most sites can change quickly on any given day). A sturdy pair of shoes, sun protection, warm layers, a raincoat, water, snacks, and a pair of binoculars are safe bets. An ID guide like Hawks at a Distance or our Raptor ID app will help identify silhouettes high in the sky. As COVID-19 continues, we suggest you pack hand sanitizer and masks.
Is there a way for me to speak with the crew before I head to the site? How can I keep up with the hawkwatch once I go home?
We run Facebook groups for each fall migration site where crew members post updates throughout the season. If you have a question about getting to the site or planning your trip, your best bet is to post in our groups. Here is a list of our groups…
We post our daily counts on Dunkadoo and HawkCount. Links to each site’s Dunkadoo are on the site webpages. Reports for the season are typically posted the following spring on our website's Reports and Publications page.
How are you keeping your crew, visitors, and birds safe from COVID-19 and Avian Influenza?
HWI encourages visitors to check and follow both CDC and local guidelines for pandemic-related safety steps if they plan to visit an HWI migration site. If you, or someone close to you, are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please reschedule your visit. We also ask that you respect the comfort level and any distancing or other requests made by our crew and other visitors. Additional protocol may be enacted depending on the status of Avian Influenza this fall. As a result, visitors will not be able to release raptors. If you are lucky enough to see a raptor in hand prior to release at one of our sites, we ask visitors also to wear a mask and sanitize when in close proximity to wild birds.
Which sites have banding operations and can I visit the blind?
We currently band at 5 sites: Chelan Ridge, Bonney Butte, the Goshute Mountains, Commissary Ridge, and the Manzano Mountains. In most cases, and especially this year with concerns about HPAI, we generally do not allow visitors into the banding blind. Possible exceptions include participants in a wildlife techniques course or former HWI crew members with prior approval from HWI’s Banding Coordinator and/or LTMCS Director. A crewmember will bring birds out and, provided the bird is not overly stressed, show them to visitors prior to release. To reduce bird-human contact, HWI crew will be releasing most birds this season.
I want to bring my K-12 class, university lab, or birding club to your site. How can we let you know we are coming?
We ask that organized groups of more than 6 individuals register before coming. You can request a timeslot here: https://form.jotform.com/HawkWatchInternational/schedule-your-migration-visit
What is new this year at the hawkwatches?
HWI has made a few much-needed updates across our network. We are adding tablets to each site to improve our sign-in procedure. For many years we have been using pen and paper, leaving us with poor translations of handwritten info. Digital sign-ins help us track our projects' visitation and geographic reach, which helps us secure private and public funds to make this long-term monitoring effort possible. Additionally, we have updated count boards at most sites, as the old ones were worn by the elements. Lastly, our banding blind at Bonney Butte is getting a makeover thanks to funding from the Oregon Birding Association and the Oregon Wildlife Foundation. The current blind is old and in disrepair, and it is time to retire it for a new and improved structure.
Which of your sites are most accessible? Which are your most challenging hikes?
Our Corpus Christi HawkWatch is certified ADA accessible. The Yaki Point viewpoint of our Grand Canyon HawkWatch is also ADA accessible, but the HawkWatch itself is not. That being said, it is a very easy walk to observation. At Commissary Ridge HawkWatch you can nearly drive up to the site, with only a short hike to observation. The Goshute Mountains HawkWatch is our most challenging hike—a strenuous 2.5 mile with a 1,800-foot elevation gain. But the views and birds are more than worth it!
How much does it take to operate the migration network?
It costs nearly $800,000 to operate our migration network. This includes costs like daily stipends, banding supplies, permits, and travel. We could not run this network without the generous support of our migration crew and partners, who donate over $500,000 worth of time to the project. The remaining $200,000 is covered through foundational funding and supporters like you.
How can I support the network?
You can support the network by making a donation in honor of one of our hawkwatches via this link. You can also support our network by purchasing one of our site stickers or migration shirts (coming to our store soon).
This blog was written by Sammy Riccio, HWI's Donor Engagement Coordinator.
You can learn more about Sammy here.