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October 2020 HawkWatch Report

Posted on 11/16/2020
by Earl Johnson, Hawk Counter
Catch up with the Hitchcock HawkWatch during October & see what's flying past the tower.

Time again to catch up with the Hitchcock HawkWatch. We are currently below average on all but 2 species, Turkey Vulture and Ferruginous Hawk. This being said, there are about 5 weeks left so there are definitely more birds to see and count! As we all know, zeros (or in this case low numbers) are data too! The reduction in numbers of raptors coming by the tower in recent years is very interesting, and it will be fascinating to see what the numbers do in the coming years. Keeping track of changes over the passage of time is what hawkwatching is all about!

Photo by Earl Johnson

It went from a super promising September to the slowest October in count history! Here's hoping there are still some more birds to come this month! Bullet points below:

Turkey Vulture: 1825 were spotted in October for 3468 total so far this season. Not expecting too many more of these. Above our usual average of 3080.

Osprey: We spotted 4 in October, 92 total so far for the season. This is below our average of 118 and we are not expecting to get many more before the end of the season.

Northern Harrier: HawkWatchers counted 53 in October, 76 total for the season. Below our average of 222 but we are likely to continue getting more as the count goes on!

Mississippi Kite: 0 for October & 3 total for the season, below our average of 7. We are glad we got a few of these counted as this early migrant could easily have been missed this season!

Sharp-shinned Hawk: 128 counted for October and 222 for the season so far. Below our average of 843. We'll keep getting these birds this month but hope for a big accipiter day is waning.

Coopers Hawk: 57 in October & 159 for the season. We are below our average of 238 (currently all time low but we're close!)

Northern Goshawk: Both of the Goshawks we've counted this year came in October and we are still below average of 5. Hope to see more of these birds coming by with the next front.

Broad-winged Hawk: 11 spotted in October for a total of 398 this season. We're well below the average of 741. Wind didn't really cooperate with us during the window of migration for this species.

Red-tailed Hawk: 392 counted in October for a total of 599 so far. We are well below average of 2535 and currently on track for an all time low unless we start seeing more red-tails soon!

Rough-legged Hawk: HawkWatchers spotted 2 in October and 2 for our season total so far. Below average of 26 but we're really just getting started with them. Hope to see many more as it gets colder!

Swainsons Hawk: 2 in October, 206 for the season. Below our average of 969.

Red-shouldered Hawk: 0 spotted in October, 3 total for the season. Below our average of 5. 

Photo by Earl Johnson

Ferruginous Hawk: 0 were seen in October, 4 for the season. This is above our average of 2 & is a record high for us with hopefully with more to come before the season's end. 

Golden Eagle: 4 in October & 5 for the season. Below our average of 18 but should continue to see more as the season progresses.

Bald Eagle: 101 in October, 205 for the season. Below average of 779 but we should be seeing more and more of these as it gets colder to the north.

American Kestrel: 8 spotted in October with 90 for the season. Below average of 101 but this is the highest count for this species since 2013.

Merlin: HawkWatchers spotted 12 in October with at total of 25 for the season. Below our average of 42 but with any luck we should continue to see some more, especially the prairie subspecies in the coming weeks.

Peregrine Falcon: HawkWatchers spotted 9 in October & have a total of 30 for the season so far. Below our annual average of 53.

Prairie Falcon:  We only spotted 1 in October and that is the only one we've counted so far this season. Below our average of 3 but there is hope to see more in the coming month!

Total migrating raptors for October: 2625

Total migrating raptors for the season so far: 5625

HawkWatchers also noted other non-raptor migrants from their vantage point on the tower, even though raptor traffic has been down we haven't been lonely! So far HawkWatchers have spotted the following this season.

Photo by Earl Johnson

7 Great Blue Heron
17504 American White Pelican
7379 Double-crested Cormorant
2131 Snow Goose
6 Ross's Goose
3524 Franklin's Gull
12 Ring-billed Gull
683 Red-headed Woodpecker
4679 Blue Jay
7743 American Crow
3 Eastern Kingbird
16823 American Robin
79 Yellow-rumped Warbler
10536 Greater White-fronted Goose
151 Canada Goose
4 Cackling Goose
52 Northern Pintail
40 American Wigeon
100 Mallard
40 Black Tern
6 Killdeer
12 Red-bellied Woodpecker
26 Northern Flicker
2 Sandhill Crane
47 Eastern Bluebird
19 White-breasted Nuthatch
124 Cedar Waxwing
36 Green Darner Dragonflies
541 Monarch Butterfly

Other birds of note seen from the tower this fall:

Red Crossbill
American Pipit
Horned Lark
Lapland Longspur
Black-billed Cuckoo
And many Pine Siskin and Red-breasted Nuthatch

We've got roughly 5 weeks left and I'm sure hoping we'll get some good movement when the wind and weather cooperates!

Thanks for reading and hope everyone is doing well and seeing lots of neat wildlife!

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