The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) breeds in eastern and central Canada and the United States, and winters in Central America and northern and central South America. Birders and ornithologists count migrating Broad-winged Hawks at dozens of traditional watch sites throughout the northeastern United States. We modeled counts of migrating Broad-winged Hawks from two raptor migration watch sites: Montclair Hawk Lookout, New Jersey, and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania, to determine whether annual abundance and trend estimates from individual sites within the mid-Atlantic states are representative of the region as a whole. We restricted ourselves to counts made between 10:00 and 16:00 EST during September to standardize count effort between sites. We created one model set for annual counts and another model set for daily counts. When modeling daily counts we incorporated weather and identity of individual observers. Akaike's Information Criteria were used to select the best model from an initial set of competing models. Annual counts declined at both sites during 1979-1998. Broad-winged Hawk migration began, peaked, and ended later at Montclair than at Hawk Mountain, even though Hawk Mountain is 155 km west-southwest of Montclair. Mean annual counts of hawks at Montclair were more than twice those at Hawk Mountain, but were not correlated. Broad-winged Hawks counted at Montclair may not be the same birds as those counted at Hawk Mountain. Rather, the two sites may be monitoring different regional subpopulations. Broad-winged Hawks counted at the two sites may use different migration tactics, with those counted at Hawk Mountain being more likely to slope soar, and those at Montclair more likely to use thermal soaring. A system of multiple watch sites is needed to monitor various breeding populations of this widely dispersed migrant.
Additional publication details
Timing and magnitude of Broad-winged Hawk migration at Montclair Hawk Lookout, New Jersey, and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania