Hawkwatch 2012, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory



I can’t believe that I had never been to a hawkwatch event! These events occur every year, usually from August through early December when hawks begin to migrate South for the winter (check your local hawkwatch for exact dates).

Above is the view from Hawk Hill in the Marin headlands north of San Francisco where the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO) has been organizing these events since 1986 (click on photos for full sized images).

As I walked up the hill to the observation area, I was met by a friendly gentleman who welcomed me. Having checked their latest tallies from the recent days on their website, I asked him if they had seen any Broad-winged Hawks (Buteo platypterus). He said, “Not yet but we expect to.”

Not five minutes later, two Broad-winged Hawks appeared right in front of us and flew over our heads!

San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge photos by Larry Jordan

Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile

I didn’t realize until I did some background research on GGRO for this post that the gentleman who greeted me was none other than Allen Fish, the first and still GGRO director since 1985!

Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile

He was busy organizing the volunteer counters that were up on the hill Saturday morning when I arrived at about 10:00 am but even so, he took the time to welcome me to the event. Here is a shot of some of the counters and visitors atop Hawk Hill.

Hawk Hill

I clicked away as the juvenile Broad-winged Hawks danced above our heads, soaring in the light air currents on this beautiful day. After all, this is a life bird for me!


Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile

You see, these hawks are predominately found in the Eastern U.S. where, during fall migration, they can be seen in flocks or “kettles” in the thousands. They are a “rare but regular” migrant through the western U.S., along the California coast, and north to British Columbia1.

Broad-winged Hawk Range Map

On this particular day, the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory had 662 sightings of 12 species in six hours! Those numbers include 27 Broad-winged Hawks!

Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile

The longitudinal breast streaking and multiple dark brown tail bands identify this as a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk.

Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile

It certainly made my day!

Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile

To see more great bird photos, check out The Bird D’pot and Wild Bird Wednesday!

References: 1Birds of North America Online

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan is an avid birder and amateur photographer living on the Pacific Flyway near the Central Valley of Northern California. He is a board member of his local Audubon Society and is a bird and wildlife conservationist. Larry contributes to several wildlife conservation organizations and is a BirdLife International "Species Champion." He is also Habitat Manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, an organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl population in the United States. Larry has been blogging about birds since September of 2007 at TheBirdersReport.com

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan is an avid birder and amateur photographer living on the Pacific Flyway near the Central Valley of Northern California. He is a board member of his local Audubon Society and is a bird and wildlife conservationist. Larry contributes to several wildlife conservation organizations and is a BirdLife International "Species Champion." He is also Habitat Manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, an organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl population in the United States. Larry has been blogging about birds since September of 2007 at TheBirdersReport.com

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