As we all take time to experience the magic of migration, you’ve no doubt seen lots of info from us about how and why we count migrating raptors, as well as tips and tricks to improve your raptor ID skills. But during this time of the season, our teams can get pretty busy as migrants really start to pick up in number. So, we wanted to do something a little different and asked our team to answer a lightning round of questions all about hawkwatching. If you’ve ever wanted to know where our experts like to watch when they’re off the clock, or if you’d like a little reassurance that your ID mistake is totally normal, read on!
What’s your favorite raptor?
“All of them!” everyone shouted as soon as we asked this question. What can we say? We’re bird nerds! When we pressed them for one answer, though, we found that our staff is owlbsolutely obsessed with raptors we actually don’t monitor on migration—owls! Over 30% of our staff picked an owl, including Education & Outreach Director Melissa Halvorsen who just couldn’t pick any bird over her Raptor Ambassador pal, Kotori.
Where’s your favorite spot to go hawkwatching?
Although we love owls, this season we focus on our other feathered friends. So where does our team like to watch when they’re off the clock? It’s unsurprising that our own hawkwatch sites—designed to be in some of the most critical spaces for monitoring the fall migration of raptors—ranked highly. Nikki and Kirsten love getting to watch hawks migrate past Mt. Hood at Bonney Butte HawkWatch, while former Commissary Ridge HawkWatch crewmembers Tori and Cody love that site and western Wyoming more broadly.
Not located near one of our sites? Nicole and Laura recommend sites in the east—the Niagra Peninsula and Monadnock, NH, respectively.
Most importantly, however, we want to remind you that you can hawkwatch wherever you are! Several of our team simply love putting their eyes to the sky in their own backyard. How’s that for an easy hike?
What’s your worst ID mistake?
No matter where you’re hawkwatching this fall (or any time, for that matter!), raptor identification can be tricky—even for experts! Several of our staff shared that they have taken a quick glance at a raptor, only to find that it wasn’t a raptor at all. “I am always thinking Ravens are raptors,” Sammy shared, while Steve has mistaken a falcon for something they might eat—pigeons. It happens to all of us, so don’t let a mistake keep you up at night!
And, if you’re looking to polish your raptor identification skills, we’ve got you covered. No matter how you like to learn, we have tons of free resources:
- Check out our Raptor ID Fact Sheets
- Download our Raptor ID App for iPhone or Android
- Watch our YouTube series on Raptor Identification
We also sell our favorite raptor identification guides (and great apparel!) in our store, with all proceeds benefiting raptor conservation.
This blog was written by Kirsten Elliott, HWI's Development and Communications Director
You can learn more about Kirsten here.