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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch: A ‘Citizen Science’ project at Audubon Greenwich

Sep 06, 2011 01:26PM

Each autumn, 17 species of hawks, eagles and vultures, migrate southwest over Quaker Ridge’s scenic hilltops in northern Greenwich. The fields are one of the highest locations in town and the sweeping views are an excellent vantage point for spotting birds. On clear days in September when winds are from the North, birders may count a few thousand broad-winged hawks as they swirl in ‘kettles’ before heading south along migration routes.

  In the late 1960’s, birders searched Fairfield County for the best sites where large numbers of migrating raptors could be observed. Over several years, more than a dozen sites were tested on weekends and in the end, it was determined that the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch at Audubon Greenwich, was the best site in the area. And ever since 1972, migrating hawks have been officially counted as they pass over Quaker Ridge (a.k.a. Hawk Watch Lawn).

  As part of the network of hawk watch locations nationwide, the Greenwich Audubon Society hired a full-time hawk watcher in 1985. The Official Hawk Counter staffs the site 9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Friday, from August 20-November 20, each year. And on weekends, volunteer counters staff the site.

  Anyone can volunteer at hawk watch. The more eyes the better because the seasonal counts average 18,000 raptors. You don’t need to be able to identify the hawks. We simply need eyes watching the skies. In fact, our best spotters are beginners who know very little about identification.

  Volunteers count and record the data and then, researchers can try to gauge the health of Northeastern raptor populations. Come out, ask questions, talk with our volunteers, and enjoy counting eagles, hawks, and falcons from Hawk Watch Lawn. For detailed data about raptor sightings at Greenwich, visit HawkCount.org.

Coming up on October 1-2, at the peak of the migration spectacle, Audubon will host the HawkWatch Weekend Festival & Green Bazaar that will feature two days of live birds of prey and animal shows, hands-on nature education, bird workshops, activities for kids, eco-shopping, food, and more! Festival is rain or shine from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Greenwich.Audubon.org. To learn more about exhibiting or the schedule, call Jeff Cordulack at 203.869.5272 x239.