Friday, September 18, 2015

Migration

Today was a day for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, which is, as its website says, "One of the best places in northeastern North America to view the annual autumn hawk migration." Apparently the configuration of this Pennsylvania ridge, and its wind patterns, funnels the migrating raptors into a relatively narrow area. Every fall, people gather on the rocky overlooks to enjoy the stunning scenery, watch, and count the birds.

My husband and I only did concentrated bird watching for about 15 minutes, as we also had plans to hike the sanctuary's challenging trails, but we saw dozens of raptors: circling, wheeling, passing over the ridge. (We also saw a monarch buttefly flutter by.) The sanctuary's official count for today was 1589 migrating birds observed, including 1532 broad-winged hawks.

In Pennsylvania, it's not uncommon to see hawks. But today I had a special thrill over each one I saw, because in this place and at this time, each was part of something bigger: this migration, this mass flight. It has been happening since long before I was born and will, I hope, continue long after I'm gone. It's one of the patterns we find on this planet, a milestone in the turning of the year and in the lives of the creatures around us.

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