Another great spring raptor migration day

Another great spring raptor migration day

The second half of April is a favorite time of year for area hawk-watchers. The annual flights of raptors peak from mid-to-late April in our part of the world. The best days depend on the weather, with south winds providing the assistance raptors need to quickly head back to their northern nesting locations.

This year the peak flight came later than usual. After warm days early in the month, several very cold and snowy days slowed the migration. Finally, on April 27 the raptor movement materialized in a big way. Twenty-five local hawk-watchers arrived early in Conneaut, Ohio at a park on the west side of town. They were not disappointed as the action picked up quickly.

Between 8-9 a.m., 50 sharp-shinned hawks were counted, and the following two hours saw over 90 sharpies going over each hour. The accipiters kept counters busy all day with a great total of 507 sharp-shinneds and 21 Cooper’s hawks.

Accipiters are fun to watch, but the real excitement began when broad-winged hawks began to show up in the west and coming overhead. As usual, they started slowly the first several hours, but by noon over 900 had been counted. All afternoon they kept coming, with the peaks totaling 503 in the 1 p.m. hour, 419 in the 2 p.m. hour and 695 from 3-4 p.m. After that there were still 522, 468 and 126, with things finally shutting down around 6:30 p.m. By then the broad-winged total had reached 3,889 — an amazing day for Ohio. Other buteos included 38 red-tailed, two rough-legged and three red-shouldered hawks.

Ospreys also were moving with a total of 24 for the day. Northern harriers reached a similar total of 22. Falcons were well represented with 29 kestrels, four peregrines and an excellent total of 10 merlins for the day.

One lone golden eagle in the 4 p.m. hour added to the excitement. It’s always difficult to count bald eagles because there are both local and migrant bald eagles around during the day, but the best estimate was 20 migrant bald eagles.

Other birds included 135 turkey vultures, six white pelicans, two common loons, one fish crow, 23 purple finches, pine siskins and an evening grosbeak.

Meanwhile, on the same day, a number of birders were counting raptors at home in Holmes County. Numbers for the day varied with the best count coming from the Ed Schlabach place near Sugarcreek. Ed and a number of other birders had an excellent total of 332 broad-winged hawks from 8 a.m. until 6:45 p.m. They added 12 sharp-shinned and 12 ospreys for the day. There were 150 broad-wings in the 10 a.m. hour with a nice kettle of 24 birds helping make it a memorable day.

Out here in Northern Indiana, we don’t get any big raptor flights, but we have been seeing a lot of newly arriving birds. Our morning birdwalk on April 28 totaled 70 species and 13 warblers along a 1-mile walk. Later in the day I drove to the Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area and the Rome City Wetlands, adding another 20 species. It was a delightful spring day, and I rarely see 90 different kinds of birds in one day in April.

Good birding.

Bruce Glick can be emailed at

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