Monday, March 14, 2016

Tubac Hawk Watch - Weekend Report

Guest Post by Peter Collins
Ron Morriss Park,Tubac, AZ March 11, 2016
8:00am - 3:00pm

Jim, a birder from northern California who's been at the park all week was the first to notice, something has changed in the last day. There are more and new things in the air.

The first Gray Hawk calls of the season were heard in the morning. By afternoon the first four sudden residents were challenging each other for trees and airspace.

Gray Hawk by Lois Manowitz

The day's first Black Hawk moved along the river trees early at 8:39. Six more between 9 and 10, another 6 between 10 and 11.

Migration seemed to slow and we began scanning higher to catch passing Black Hawks. We counted 5 after midday. Today there were many more raptors moving. More Redtails than recently jetting through extremely high. Signs of a rising tide of spring migration.

Reports of Lucy's Warblers along the river trail have increased. Glimpses of gulls moving north overhead.

Lucy's Warbler by Lois Manowitz

Two young Golden Eagles were spotted. The first drew the attention of the Short-tailed hawk. A few hours later the second eagle was encouraged to move on by a light Redtail and a large falcon.

The usual local raptors list now adds Gray Hawks.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk 18
Red-tailed Hawk 12
Short-tailed Hawk 1
Gray Hawk 4
Peregrine Falcon 1
Merlin 1
Kestrel 5
Turkey Vulture 40
Black Vulture 2
Unidentifiable Raptors 7

March 12, 2016
8:00am - 1:00pm

The crowd started building shortly after 8am with 50 birders ready for the 9:03 liftoff of the first Black Hawk. All but one of the 9 Black Hawks flew before 10:00. Most passed over high, but a few gave better looks just north of the watch. Our second Zone-tailed Hawk was sighted at 10:25.

The crowd

Gray Hawks were vocal and visible throughout the day.

I closed the count at 1:00 and then it started to rain Black Hawks. Ok, only a drizzle but really big drops. The first Black Hawk dropped into the river trees at 1:14. Two more around 2:30. Four just before 4:00. Another five after 5:00. We left at 5:30 while raptors continued arriving.

It looks promising for tomorrow morning.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk - 9
Zone-tailed Hawk - 1
Turkey Vulture - 48
Red-tailed Hawk - 1

Today's sparkling white birds were a group of 18 Ring-billed Gulls.

March 13, 2016
8:00am - 4:00pm

At least 62 birders anticipating a good Black Hawk flight today were rewarded at 9:24 when the first
of 25 Black Hawks was sighted. Sixteen were counted before 10:00am.

Bill Lisowsky conducted a coordinated lift off count north of the park to give us a sense of how many Black Hawks spent the night too far north for us to observe. He documented 13-15 Black Hawks that we were unlikely to see. He also noted a Merlin and photographed a Prairie Falcon. Thanks Bill.

Back at the park we had 3 Zone-tailed Hawks one a photogenic bird that made run at prey in the field west of the fence. A Peregrine Falcon showed off overhead. An afternoon Golden Eagle was more reserved, slipping by at a distance.

The last Black Hawk of the day glided north, grazing the tree tops at 6:05 looking for a place to settle down for the night. I followed its recommendation, heading north towards Vail.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk 25
Zone-tailed Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Gray Hawk 1
Golden Eagle 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Kestrel 1
Merlin 2
Kestrel 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Turkey Vulture 43

Most Common T-shirt today: the rare 2015 Tubac Hawk Watch T-shirt!


  1. Can you tell me if hawk counters will be there this coming weekend? I am a good birder, but have never been to a hawk count and I would love to come down Saturday.

  2. Hello! Don't know if you went out this weekend, but counters will be there most of this week, if not the whole week. Also, Tucson Audubon has a couple of field trips going there tomorrow and next week. Check our list here,


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