Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Hawkwatch Update


Last updated 4/3/2020 at 12:02pm

The annual Borrego Springs Hawkwatch that monitors the migration of Swainson’s Hawks through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has begun and will continue through the month of March.

Hal Cohen, organizer of the annual census, said things have started slowly, with only a handful of Swainson’s having been observed so far.

“We will not have a major flower bloom and with it the caterpillars. Our expectation is for an average hawk migration of around 5,000 Swainson’s hawks,” Cohen said.

Hawkwatch began 18 years ago when it was recognized that Borrego Springs was on the migratory route of for these beautiful raptors that pass through here every spring on their long journey from southern South America to as far north as the Arctic Circle.

Borrego Spring is normally an important way station, providing good roosting locations and often an excellent source of food when large, juicy, green caterpillars arrive during the spring wildflower bloom.

Cohen has hopes that bird numbers will increase as the peak of the migration arrives, typically between March 15 to 21.

Volunteers to help with count are still welcome, for both morning and evening count sites.

“Each evening about an hour before sunset we meet on a dune 1.8 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive on Borrego Valley Road. Each morning we meet on a raised mound 2.8 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive on DiGiorgio Rd at 8 a.m.,” Cohen said.

Most often the migrating hawks and vultures depart the valley on their northward journey between 8 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.

Cohen said there are plans to post an information board at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association office, sponsors of the count. The board will provide the latest information about Hawkwatch and the status of migration.

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