Delaware has two hawk watches that have professional counters from September 1 through November 30.  They are located along the Atlantic coast at Cape Henlopen State Park (Lewes) and in the rolling hills of the Piedmont at Ashland Nature Center (Hockessin).  Both Hawk Watches seek volunteers to help scan the skies and record data, and warmly welcome visitors.  The two are quite different in their geographical locations so a different population of birds flyover each one.   The migrating raptors that fly south over Cape Henlopen are following the coast, either coming from Cape May, NJ or following the Delaware River to its mouth. Birds flying over Ashland are following the ridges of the Piedmont, and most are believed to head South via the Western side of the Chesapeake.

Cape Henlopen Hawk Watcher Jen Ottinger.

Cape Henlopen Hawk Watcher Jen Ottinger.

The DOS hawk watches are very dependent on volunteers to help and both welcome any birders at any time.  In fact, the hawk watches are often at the center of  autumn Delaware birding activities.  Each Hawk Watch site hosts a Big Sit during the second weekend in October, and on any weekend you will find a good number of birders at the watch sites enjoying the spectacle.

Ashland Hawk Watcher Sharon Ellison.

Ashland Hawk Watcher Sharon Ellison.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Both report data to the HMANA (Hawk Migration Association of North America) data base and contribute to the understanding of raptor movement in the Western Hemisphere.  Both are funded by a State Wildlife grant, through the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife(DFW).  DOS acts as the contractor with the partners of Delaware Nature Society (DNS), DFW, and Delaware State Parks. See the latest hawk migration data for the Ashland Hawk Watch.  See the latest hawk migration data for the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch.

View from the Ashland Hawk Watch.

View from the Ashland Hawk Watch.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

If you would like to volunteer at the Ashland Hawk Watch, please contact Derek Stoner 239-2334, ext 106 or derek@delawarenaturesociety.org  If you would like to volunteer at Cape Henlopen, please contact Sue Gruver 302-645-6390 or srgruver@aol.com

Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch offers a fine view of the Atlantic Ocean, and really is a Hawk Watch and Sea Watch combined. Photo by Sally O'Byrne.

Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch offers a fine view of the Atlantic Ocean, and really is a Hawk Watch and Sea Watch combined. Photo by Sally O’Byrne.

The Cape Henlopen hawk watch also hosts a totally volunteer-run Spring migration count, and has one of the highest falcon flights in the country, even with its limited hours.   Please contact Sue Gruver if you would like to help in the Spring.