February 7, 2012

Tussey Mountain Times

Golden Eagle (photo by Vic Berardi)

This spring I have the privilege of being the official spring raptor counter for the Tussey Mountain Hawk Watch.  Located only miles from Penn State, this ridge site is one of the best places to witness the spring migration of Golden Eagles.  A small population of Golden Eagles nest in northeastern Canada and are known to use the ridges of the Appalachians as leading lines to their wintering grounds in the eastern United States.  Every spring, these birds migrate back along similar routes, utilizing the lift provided by the ridges.

With such a high number of Golden Eagles, the watch has a focus on these majestic birds, with extra documentation needed for them as they pass the ridge.  The count hopes to better understand the spring migration patterns of Golden Eagles and help protect them.  Besides Golden Eagles, Tussey Mountain annually records 16 species of migrating raptors.  The count site is located along a power line cut on the ridge of Tussey Mountain, with the majority of raptors following the south facing ridge with Stone Valley below.

Being an official counter at such an important spring site is an honor for me.   I can hardly wait to be spending my days on the ridge.  This count can be cold.  It can be quiet and sometimes even lonely.  However, there will be eagles and lots of them.   Being outside and having the opportunity to teach others about birds is what makes me come alive.

This blog will be the place to see updates on how I'm doing at the count and I hope to update it frequently.  If you're interested in the numbers, check out Tussey Mountain's hawk count profile.  Hawk Count is the brain child of HMANA and is where most data for hawk watches across North America are recorded and archived. I'll be uploading daily on this site that and will hopefully be including some spectacular numbers of Golden Eagles!


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