Borrego Sun - Since 1949

By Hal Cohen
Founder of Borrego Valley Hawkwatch 

Hawk Watch Season Ends

 

Last updated 6/23/2024 at 9:01am

The 22nd season of Borrego Valley Hawkwatch covered the period of February 21 – April 15.

The number of raptors counted in spring 2024 included 3,174 Swainson's Hawks, 1,539 Turkey Vultures, one Osprey, one Bald Eagle, two Sharp-shinned Hawks, two Ferruginous Hawks, and two unidentified raptors. It was a record year for Turkey Vultures plus we had our first migrating Bald Eagle.

This season will be noted for expectations rather than results. We had almost seven inches of rain and a very good flower bloom. The expected abundant caterpillars as a food source showed up in locations not frequented by the hawks. Some grasshoppers were present but not in the number we witnessed in 2023. We did have clouds of flying ants and Craneflies. On a few occasions, aerial feeding was observed.

The Borrego Valley Hawkwatch observation area is approximately 50 miles north of the Mexican border and 26 miles west of the Salton Sea. The official count site is located on DiGiorgio Road, 2.8 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive. Our site sponsor is Roadrunner Tree Farm. This site is located on a large sand dune for elevation. The site overlooks an abandoned grape vineyard from the 1950's.

Our Hawkwatch is unique in having a preview of migrating hawks. Hawks descend into the valley approximately one hour before sunset. They gather in Eucalyptus and Tamarisk Trees throughout the valley. Early the following morning they continue their journey north. We estimate the number of hawks entering the valley for the night. A HAWK ALERT email is sent to over 500 folks when over 100 hawks come in at night. Time of departure is estimated based on wind direction and speed. Watchers from as far as Los Angeles and San Diego make their way to Borrego Springs to witness the spectacle. In years when food is available (grasshoppers, caterpillars, flying ants or craneflies), the hawks may remain in the valley for a few days before continuing north.

Our Sponsor, Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, provides support throughout the season. Reaching out to hundreds of ABDNHA members, we have trained several new observers and leaders. The 2024 Hawlwatch team consists of: Pam Albers, Tom Antel, Jonathan Berman, Tracee Geernaert, Tom Hamilton, Candace Hess, Denise McGowan, Matthew Nothelfer, Nancy Keeley, Randy Lenon, Seldon McKee, Nancy McRae, Pete McRae, Susan Plumb, Richard Shutler, Mark Stevens, Jonathan Williams, Roberta Wall, Ben Weaver and Alicia Wszelaki. We continue to train new Hawkwatch Volunteers. Contact raptorhal3@gmail.com, if you're interested.

What's in store for 2025? The documentary "HAWK ALERT" by Path 88 Productions is now in post-production and will have its world premiere at the Borrego Springs Film Festival in January 2025. Follow the progress of the film at http://www.borregospringshawkalert.com. Also, a proposed location change for the official day count site is in the planning stages. The site is located at the junction of Henderson Canyon Road and Borrego Valley Road.

 
 
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