There's a trickle down effect that begins around late August when the weather starts getting chilly in the northern U.S. and Canada. Actually, it's more of a fly-down effect: Cold weather up north prompts at least 20 species of hawks to begin the flying south to their winter homes in Central and South America.
Their route of choice: the Blue Ridge escarpment, the I-95 of travel for thousands of vultures, falcons, eagles, accipiters and buteos. They like the BRE one, because it's headed in the right direction, and two, updrafts coming up off the surrounding valleys lift the birds to heights estimated at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, from which they can begin an effortless glide south to the next updraft refueling station. The birds can cover up to 200 miles in a day.
And every fall around this time, you'll find birders, avid and novice, likewise flocking to the Blue Ridge escarpment. Birders like those who will be gathering at Pilot Mountain starting Saturday to keep tabs on the migration. The Pilot Mountain watch, which runs through Sept. 30, is sponsored by the Audubon Society of Forsyth County. There, volunteers will take four-hour shifts between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily to count the migrating hawks. Their findings will be reported to HawkCount; information from the count is used to help keep tabs on the health of the environment. (Remember DDT?)
Up for spending part of a gorgeous fall day atop Pilot Mountain scanning for hawks? Touch base with Phil Dickinson with the Forsyth Audubon at email@example.com or 336.659.2464.
For more information on hawk watching and the hawk migration, check out this story I wrote in 2001.
This post is being simulcast at our sister site, nchikes.com.