Did you know that a hawk car fly from Vermont to Tennessee without ever flapping its wings? That’s what Hawk Mountain Sanctuary volunteer Lyle Russell told me last Saturday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. It seems that the hawk can catch an updraft in the Vermont mountains and ride it southwest and pick up other updrafts until he arrives in Tennessee. One of the places that these hawks pick up the updraft is at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was established in 1934 by conservationist Rosalie Edge. It was the world’s first refuge for birds of prey. The sanctuary consists of 2,600 acres on Kittatinny Ridge, part of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s part of a 13,000 acre tract that makes up one of the largest protected forest areas in southeastern Pennsylvania. Why do over 60,000 people visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary each year? Perhaps the better question is why should you visit the sanctuary? Why, to see the big birds of course.
Lyle Russell told me that in 2008, 12,193 hawks, 255 bald eagles and 4,289 broad winged hawks were spotted at the sanctuary. In total, there are over 300 species of birds of prey that frequent the sanctuary. South Lookout, one of the best vantage points is located a mere 300 yards from the Visitors Center. It’s an easy walk and can also be handled by motorized wheelchairs or scooters. There are an additional eight miles of backwoods trails on the sanctuary grounds that offer several outstanding points from where to spot the big birds during their migration.
The hawks’ migration season lasts from mid-August through the first week of December and most of the Bald Eagles are spotted in August and September. If you visit in May, you’re likely to catch the sweet tunes of migrating warblers. The June view features acres and acres of mountain laurel flowers. With views that stretch for over seventy miles and over 1,400 species of plants and animals, you’re sure to see something exciting no matter what time of year you visit. Don’t forget your binoculars and camera!
The sanctuary does have a couple of rules you’ll need to know about. First, no pets are allowed. This is for the safety of the raptors. In addition, no fires of any kind are allowed. Therefore you’ll have to fill you picnic backpack with sandwiches, snacks and other ready to eat food. There are lots of picnic tables available for your use. Admission to the trails from December – August is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children aged 6 – 12. During the migration season (September – November) is $7 for adults & seniors and $3 for children. Fees are collected at the Visitors Center which is open daily from 9:00 to 5:00 from December through August and 8:00 to 5:00 during the migration season.
I want to thank Lyle Russell for the great information about the sanctuary. I hope you get the opportunity to visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary soon. Maybe you’ll even run into The Pennsylvania Wanderer there.
Map of the area around Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. The map will zoom out for you.