Visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary this Saturday and see a live bald eagle up close during a FREE 2 p.m. presentation by the Carbon County Environmental Center. This free eagle show is part of the Sanctuary’s annual Bald Eagle Migration Day and will be held in the outdoor amphitheater, or indoors in event of rain.
Bald Eagle Migration Day is designed to remind visitors that late August and early September can be the best time to see bald eagles in the wild as they migrate south past the Sanctuary lookouts. At this time of year visitors have more than a 50 percent chance of seeing one on any given day.
“Eagles are on the rise, and now more than ever you have a chance of seeing one at Hawk Mountain,” says Mary Linkevich, a spokesperson for the Sanctuary. “In fact, on Wednesday, August 14, several members counted 21 bald eagles,” she added.
Children who walk with an adult to the lookout will be invited to participate in a simple eagle counting activity, tallying the number of eagles that pass and noting the time, just like the Sanctuary biologists. Children who return their activity sheet to the Visitor Center will have their name entered to win a special bald eagle-themed prize, and they need not be present to win. Also at the Visitor Center will be free information about eagles, their conservation status and their natural history, and some simple and fun take-home activities and factsheets.
About the Bald Eagle
Perhaps the most easily recognized raptor, adult bald eagles are easily distinguished by the white head feathers that stand out against the bird’s dark brown body, but they won’t appear until the bird is at least four or five years old. First-year eagles tend to be brown overall or have white mottling on the underside of its wings. In the second and third year, the birds show heavy white streaking on the breast, and a year later, may have a nearly-white head with dark ‘smudges’.
To identify an eagle at any age, look for a thick, barrel-like body, plank-like wings, an enormous beak and bright yellow feet. In flight, bald eagles are enormous: the wingspan may reach as wide as 7.5 feet and the bird can weigh up to 14 pounds. In comparison, the more commonly seen red-tailed hawk weighs just 1.5 to 3 pounds and has a wingspan less than half the eagle.
About Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a prime observation spot for watching the autumn raptor migration thanks to its location along the easternmost edge of the Appalachians. Here, hawks use ridge currents to gain lift, just like glider pilots on long-distance flights. Besides hawks, eagles and falcons, hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, songbirds and waterfowl also use the Appalachian Mountain Flyway. Some species follow the Appalachians to their end, before heading south to the coastal plains of eastern Mexico and falling out to the tropical forests of Central and South America, but the bald eagle typically travels only as far as Florida.
The official Hawk Mountain Autumn Hawk Watch runs from August 15 to December 15. Those who wish to visit the lookout should wear sturdy shoes, dress in layered clothing, and bring binoculars, something soft to sit upon, and a daypack. The Sanctuary has no trash receptacles on site and follows a carry in–carry out trash policy. Snack food and water are available for sale in the Visitor Center. Trails may not be suitable for children ages 6 and under.
Trails to the lookouts at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary are open daily from dawn to dusk. Weekday trail fees are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children 6-12, and Bald Eagle Migration Day occurs before autumn weekend increases take effect. After September 1, weekend trail fees increase to $8 for adults and seniors, and $4 for children 6-12, and continue through the end of November. Trail fees include all weekend programs. Hawk Mountain Members are always admitted free of charge, year-round, and memberships start at $50 for a family, available on-site or online.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a non-profit, member-supported organization located just seven miles north of I-78 Cabela’s intersection near Hamburg (exit 29B). For more information on weather forecasts, or for the daily hawk count, call the info line at 610-756-6000 x6, or to speak to someone at the Sanctuary, call 610-756-6961. For more information, anytime, please call 610-756-6961 or visit www.hawkmountain.org