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Hitchcock Nature Center HawkWatch

Every year, from September through December, birds-of-prey enthusiasts gather at Hitchcock Nature Center to observe & count thousands of eagles, hawks, & other raptors as they migrate south.

Read our Fall 2021 HawkWatch report here!

The Hitchcock HawkWatch is a volunteer driven research project based at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa. Staffed by dozens of volunteers & one paid seasonal employee this hawkwatch effort counts an average of 13,000 migrating raptors annually. Occupying the observation tower at Hitchcock Nature Center this team watches from a vantage point providing a 360-degree view of the Missouri River Valley. The official hawkwatch season is from September 1st through December 13th annually. 

Hitchcock Nature Center is an optimal location to view the annual migration of numerous species of raptors due to its position on the Missouri River Valley. Here prevailing westerly winds create near perfect conditions for migrating raptors as they soar on thermals & topographically induced upward wind deflections on their journey south. 

HawkWatch Observation Tower at Hitchcock Nature Center

The data collected by the Hitchcock HawkWatch team is shared to a national database to add to our collective knowledge about birds-of-prey & to support continued raptor research & support projects. Data is submitted to the Hawk Migration Association of North America, click below to view the Hitchcock Nature Center HawkWatch profile.

HNC HawkWatch Profile

The Hitchcock HawkWatch began in 1991 by a group of passionate volunteers who devoted their time to counting & reporting migrating raptor species. The program has grown since its creation, becoming Iowa's first Important Bird Area in 2003 & receiving the Governor's Volunteer Award in 2004. Today the Hitchcock HawkWatch is part of a nationwide network of raptor monitoring locations & has been named one of the top twenty-five HawkWatches in the United States. 

Click Here to Read our 2020 HawkWatch Season Report

Click Here to Read our November, 2020 Monthly Report

Click Here to Read our October, 2020 Monthly Report

Click Here to Read our September, 2020 Monthly Report

Click Here to Meet Earl Johnson, 2020 Season Hawk Counter

Visiting the Hitchcock HawkWatch

Visitors to Hitchcock Nature Center are welcome to visit our HawkWatch during their regular season. Climb the 45' observation tower, located on the northwest corner of the Loess Hills Lodge daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, from September 1st through mid-December. Our HawkWatch team is intrepid & will be spotting raptors in all but the worst weather conditions. 

We ask that visitors to the Hitchcock HawkWatch remember this is an active scientific research project. HawkWatch volunteers are actively spotting, identifying, & recording data during their time on the tower. If we are having a particularly active morning of flight or if our team is short staffed HawkWatchers may not be available to answer your questions. Also, all spotting equipment on the observation tower is for HawkWatch personnel use only, & in many cases is a personal belonging of the HawkWatch volunteer, please give all equipment a wide berth & monitor any accompanying children. 




Become a Hitchcock HawkWatch Volunteer

Join the Hitchcock HawkWatch volunteer team! All you need is a love of birds & a willingness to learn. On the job training is provided by our experienced team of HawkWatch volunteers & staff.

To become a Hitchcock HawkWatch Volunteer please complete & submit your volunteer application. 

Become a Volunteer 

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