Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
|Hawk Mountain Sanctuary|
North Lookout toward the East, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
|Location||Berks / Schuylkill counties, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Nearest city||Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania|
|Area||2,600 acres (11 km2)|
|Visitors||60,000 (in 2008)|
|Governing body||Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association|
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a wild bird sanctuary in Albany Township and East Brunswick Township, located along the Appalachian flyway in eastern Pennsylvania. The sanctuary is a prime location for the viewing of kettling and migrating raptors with an average of 20,000 hawks, eagles and falcons passing the lookouts during the late summer and fall every year. The birds are identified and counted by staff and volunteers to produce annual counts of migrating raptors that represent the world's longest record of raptor populations. These counts have provided conservationists with valuable information on changes in raptor numbers in North America.
The Sanctuary is located on a ridge of Hawk Mountain, one of the Blue Mountain chain. The Visitor Center houses a shop and facilities with parking nearby. A habitat garden next to it is home to native plants that are protected by a deer fence. The 1 mile Lookout Trail runs from the Visitor Center to a number of raptor viewing sites along the ridge, the most popular being the close by South Lookout (elevation 1300 feet) and the North Lookout (elevation 1521 feet) with a 200 degree panoramic view that extends to 70 miles. Nine trails of varying difficulty are available to hikers and linked to the Appalachian Trail.
The sanctuary partners with a few of the local colleges, such as Kutztown University and Cedar Crest College, to provide higher-level classes for students in relevant fields of study. They also offer programs, seminars, and volunteer opportunities to the public. The sanctuary is extremely popular as a destination for birdwatchers and hikers.
The area was a popular site for shooting hawks, either for sport or to prevent depredations on domestic fowl or game birds. In 1934, Rosalie Edge leased 1,400 acres (5.7 km2) of property on Hawk Mountain and hired wardens to keep the hunters away. The wardens were Maurice Broun and his wife Irma Broun, bird enthusiasts and conservationists from New England. Almost immediately, there was a noticeable recovery in the raptor population. In 1938, the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania, and Edge purchased the property and deeded it to the association in perpetuity.
As the world's oldest wildlife sanctuary exclusively committed to the protection and observation of birds of prey, Hawk Mountain holds a unique place in geographic and scientific history. It is not owned or financially supported by the state; it remains entirely self-sufficient. In 1965 the sanctuary was registered as a National Natural Landmark.
In 2007, the sanctuary lost one of its dearest friends and the most generous benefactor in its history, Sarkis Acopian, an industrialist and humanitarian. Through his philanthropy, the sanctuary was able to open the Acopian Center for Conservation Learning in 2001, where students come from all over the world to participate in work-study internships, learning about ornithology, environmental science, biology, and related fields.
In 2009, the sanctuary celebrated the 75th anniversary of Rosalie Edge's original efforts.
The peak migration time at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is as follows. Time periods given here are those when the raptor has historically been counted on half or more days. Species of raptor are listed in chronological order of the start of their period of likely observation.
- Broad-winged hawk: late August to late September
- American kestrel: late August to early October
- Osprey: late August to early October
- Bald eagle: early September
- Northern harrier: early September to early November
- Sharp-shinned hawk: early September to early November
- Red-tailed hawk: early September to early December
- Cooper's hawk: late September to late October
- Merlin: early October (seen only two in five days)
- Peregrine falcon: early October (seen only two in five days)
- Red-shouldered hawk: early October to early November
- Golden eagle: early November
- Rough-legged hawk: early November to early December (seen only one in five days)
- Goshawk: late November
- Broun, Maurice. Hawks Aloft: The Story of Hawk Mountain.
- The official website of Hawk Mountain
- Video Interviews About Hawk Mountain