The winds of autumn carry birds of prey over Hawk Mountain.
To get a look, takes a drive of less than an hour from Hazleton to Drehersville.
Increase your chances of seeing a mass of birds by traveling on a day after a rain when a cold front is moving through.
That’s a tip that I got from Alan Gregory, a retired outdoor editor at the Standard-Speaker.
A cold front gets the air, and the birds, moving.
Alan would see hundreds of broad-winged hawks after picking the right day to visit.
Once at Hawk Mountain, visitors have a choice of hiking the rocky climb to the North Lookout or the shorter, gentler path, build with a slight grade and benches along the way, to the South Lookout.
Take binoculars, a spotting scope or a camera with a zoom lens if you have them.
Usually, someone will let you peek through their binoculars and help identify the birds flying past.
In addition to broad-winged, there are sharp-shinned, red-shouldered, red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks, plus eagles, osprey, vultures, harriers, kestrels and kites
On weekends, the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary offers programs to help guests distinguish one species in flight from another, become adept with binoculars and see raptors up close as they are being nursed back to health.
Hawk Mountain’s scientists conduct studies on migration changes, bird populations and habitat.
They’ve helped me write articles about the effects of wind turbines on birds, climate change on migration patterns and vultures. I follow one of their blogs, the Vulture Chronicles, to learn about a study underway from Canada to the tip of South America.
Vultures are among the most interesting of raptors, to me, because I see them most.
They also are among the least attractive and least admired raptors. Their size and ability to hover in thermal air currents, while tilting their wings to get the most out of updrafts, intrigues me.
All raptors once had been despised.
Mass hunting of hawks and other raptors at places like Hawk Mountain led to their preservation.
In 1934 Rosalie Edge, aghast after seeing reports of the mass shootings, purchased Hawk Mountain.
She made a place of slaughter into a sanctuary.