Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a 2,600-acre natural area in southeastern Pennsylvania. The terrain acts like a funnel for migrating raptors. The local mountains run north-south and cross winds hit the ridges and create updrafts favorable for slope soaring.  Hawk Mountain is on the Appalachian Flyway and is one of the best places in the country to watch migrating raptors in the fall.

The area has a bloody and sad history. In 1929 the Pennsylvania Game Commission placed a $5 bounty on goshawks and Hawk Mountain was a favorite location for hunters. Richard Pough, an amateur ornithologist visited Hawk Mountain and watched hunters shooting hundreds of migrating raptors, just for sport. The bodies of the dead birds were left to rot on the ground.

Richard sent photos of the dead birds to New York conservationist Rosalie Edge.  Mrs. Edge visited the area. She leased 1,400 acres, stopped the hunting, and created what eventually became the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Today Hawk Mountain is the most famous hawk watch location in the country.

Male Northern Harrier in flight.

Male Northern Harrier. Photograph by Greg Lavaty.

Scenic overlooks range from 1,300 to 1,500 feet in elevation offering spectacular views. Between August 15 and December 15 an average 18,000 raptors fly past its ridge tops, often at eye-level.

By mid-August the first Bald Eagle signals the beginning of the fall raptor migration, followed by Ospreys, and American Kestrels. Thousands of Broad-winged Hawks pass in mid September, and October brings as many as 16 species of raptors.

Peregrine Falcon.

Peregrine Falcon.

While fall is the most popular time of year, the sanctuary is open year-round. Free programs feature live birds of prey and are held most Saturdays and Sundays, May through November.

Almost 250 bird species have been seen in the area. Numerous hiking trails run through the area. The Visitor Center includes the Mountain Bookstore, Wings of Wonder gallery, and gift shop.

Broad-winged Hawk in flight

Broad-winged Hawk

About 30 miles west of Allentown, Pa.

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