Can Lightning Strike Twice?

This mythical hawk migration that was said to occur in the Indiana Dunes seems to reveal itself more and more this season.  With typically ideal migration conditions, a hawk migration did indeed occur today.  If you add the 160 hawks seen today (Wed, April 18) with the previous counts this season, we’ve surpassed 1,000 birds of prey from the Dunes State Park Green Tower site.  These numbers have not been seen in nearly a decade (2004 to be exact) per Ken Brock.  With several weeks left in the typical hawk migration window, it will be interesting to see how high we can get this season!

The morning started off calm, but chilly.  Another frost advisory had been issued the night before, and the counters were greeted to low 40s, but a promise of some sunshine peeking over the horizon.  The flight was not notably strong, but enough birds streamed past to make it interesting.  By the end, some 4,200 birds flew past, made up of 70 different species.  No new birds were added to the season total today.

Bernie Konrady and Brendan Grube log migrating hawks from the Green Tower on 4/18/12.

Today’s highlights (including hawks) were: 1 Red-throated Loon, 46 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 26 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Merlin, 17 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 3 Pine Warblers, 3 Rusty Blackbirds, and 3 Pine Siskin.

Aside from typical daily counts, the counters will also do hourly or 1/2 hourly counts for specific species.  For passerines, this data helps show when the morning flight occurs.  Statistics can express the percentage of the day’s flight each hour (more on that in an future post).  The hawk watch is also done every 30 minutes.  The breakdown below shows how the morning’s hawks chose to migrate by.

All Hawk Watch Data for 4/18/12. Chart courtesy of Ken Brock.

South winds (and rain) will persist for one more day, but then cold north winds look to infiltrate the dunes for the weekend.



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