Hawk Watch on Cadillac Mt

Follow Cadillac Hawk Watch with DAILY counts and MONTHLY totals HERE,  at HawkCount.org

2105 Cadillac Mountain Hawk Watch Overview

The 21st annual hawk count at the Cadillac Mountain Hawk Watch primary site began on August 18th and concluded on November 15th, 2015. Jason Bojczyk, Schoodic Institute’s Lead Counter and Seth Benz, Bird Ecology Program Director, and Count Coordinator recently compiled the 2015 Hawk Watch Summary.

A total of 2,755 raptors were seen during 292.75 hours of observation over 67 days of coverage. The average number of hours covered perday equaled 4.4, while the average number of raptors detected per hour was 9.4. This statistic is some 27% below the 20- year average of 13 raptors per hour. Overall, the 2015 seasonal raptor total is 6.1% below the 20- year seasonal average of 2,932 raptors. A total of 10 days of coverage were completely lost due to fog and/or rain with an additional 12 days impacted significantly by fog and/or rain (where visibility was reduced to 5 km or less for at least half the counting period that day).

A total of 1,919 visitors attended the hawk watch this season. There were two peak weeks of visitation: August 30th to September 5th, and September 15th to September 21st. Forty-six percent of the total visitation, or 885 visitors, occurred between these two weeks.

A separate comparative hawk count at a lower location on Cadillac Mountain took place on 12 days and amassed 54.25 hours of observation, tallying 571 raptors, resulting in a count of 10.5 raptors per hour on average. Further observational work is needed to better separate and avoid duplication of counts from each site.

Specific species accounts can be found here: Hawk Watch Summary – 2015


Jason sends the following report from earlier this season:  Tuesday (9/15): Nice raptor flight with over 100 American Kestrel and the 3rd best Merlin day; 2 Peregrines rounded out the falcon hat trick.

For more information, call (207) 288-1350.

Wednesday (9/16): Excellent raptor flight, particularly with the lack of Broad-winged Hawks; Best Sharp-shinned Hawk day count, tied for best Merlin day count, 5th best American Kestrel single day count. Some kestrels came amazing close, flying just overhead. (Female) American Kestrel photo by Jason Bojczyk.

Wednesday (9/16): Excellent raptor flight, particularly with the lack of Broad-winged Hawks; Best Sharp-shinned Hawk day count, tied for best Merlin day count, 5th best American Kestrel single day count. Some kestrels came amazing close, flying just overhead. (Female) American Kestrel photo by Jason Bojczyk.

2014 Cadillac Mountain Hawk Watch Overview

The 2014 hawk watch season atop Cadillac Mountain marked the first year in a partnership between Schoodic Institute and Acadia National Park’s Interpretive Division. This joint effort achieved 63 days of coverage and amassed a record 315 observation hours. Between the opening day on August 18th and the conclusion of coverage on October 31, 2,605 raptors were tallied.  Except for the days that were rained out or where thick fog denied visibility, an observation team of at least two people counted, on average, from 9 AM to 2 PM daily.

The popular hawk watch site attracted 4,100 visitors this season. At 1,400 ft. elevation, the site treats visitors to a breathtaking view of Downeast Maine, Frenchman Bay, the Porcupine Islands, Schoodic Peninsula, and Schoodic Mountain.  Migrating hawks emerge from this spectacular backdrop and generally fly directly toward the onlooking observers, often passing below eye level.  From this vantage point, aided by binoculars, visitors can easily see the characteristic field marks that make species identification possible. All told, 14 species of raptors were identified during the season, with the Sharp-shinned Hawk count of 768 individuals being the highest single species total. Non raptor sightings included migratory butterflies, dragonflies, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a variety of songbirds. To explore the daily results from 2014 and species or yearly comparisons reaching back to the site’s inception in 1995 click here.

Cadillac Mountain Hawk Watch: Gateway to the Atlantic Flyway

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the highest point along the Atlantic coast from the Canadian border to Brazil. Its latitude makes Cadillac Mountain a natural sentinel and exceptional early detection point for observing the northeastern-most headwaters of what becomes a spectacular river of southbound raptors.

Species, Weather, and Migration

Cadillac Mountain’s stream of raptors include Accipiters such as the Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk; Buteos like Broad-winged Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk; Falcons like the Peregrine, Merlin and American Kestrel. Also seen annually are Bald Eagle, Osprey, Northern Harrier, and Turkey Vulture.

One of these species (Sharp-shinned Hawk) is quite common and its migration period is long (September – November). Observers can expect to see them almost every day. However, the species you will see depends upon the date of your visit and the weather conditions you experience.

In general, hawks are visible from the Cadillac Mountain site from Mid-August into November. In particular, hawk watchers seek out specific days with weather conditions that stimulate hawks to move in considerable numbers. The best days occur when a passing cold front from the north or west is accompanied by dropping temperatures. These advantageous conditions combined with the topography of Acadia National Park hustle the raptors right past Cadillac Mountain.

An official Hawk Counter is on duty from mid-August through October. The count is conducted by the Schoodic Institute staff in collaboration with Acadia National Park’s Interpretive Division and Volunteers. Interpretive Rangers are on hand to help visitors with identification and answer questions relating to birds of prey.

The table below illuminates the differing migration timeframe for each species. Some raptors have very protracted migrations, beginning in August and stretching into December. Others, such as the Broad-winged Hawk, usually pass through our latitude by early October at the latest.



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