Three bald eagles and four golden eagles! Gary picked the perfect day to visit Hawk Mountain, hopefully selected to see eagles. Twenty miles north of Reading, near Dreyersville, PA, Hawk Mountain Santuary is the world's first refuge for birds of prey and an international center for raptor conservation.
It wasn't always a sanctuary. Because Hawk Mountain is on the Appalachian Flyway, cross winds hit the ridges and create updrafts favorable for slope soaring. Every year as summer ends, thousands of bird migrate south. Before 1940 gunners would station themselves on the escarpment and shoot hundreds of passing hawks for sport.
This terrible carnage caught the attention of Rosalie Edge who, along with other bird conservationalists, was instrumental in purchasing the property, ending the shooting and opening the Sanctuary to the public in 1938 as a place to see the beautiful but persecuted birds of prey.
It's a short hike to the South Lookout.
And just a bit further up to the top of the Ridge and the North Lookout.
Lots of folks stake out a spot on the rocks to view the soaring raptors. It's fun to take a picnic and enjoy the fantastic view. On this clear day, I could see The Pinnacles promontorybehind me, that I hiked a few years ago, along the Appalachian Trail.
There are Naturalists with big spotting scopes that identify the birds as they ride the thermals overhead. Gary and I try to guess the hawks before the rangers call out the name but we really want everything to be an Eagle.
The visitors center is informative with displays on birds, migration routes and lots of programs and presentations.
There's even a quilt!
In the few hours that we stayed watching, we saw only a small number of the birds sighted. The final count for Sunday was 345 birds, including 19 Golden Eagles, 5 Bald Eagles, Red Tail, Sharp Shinn, Coopers Hawks and many other raptors.
What an amazing legacy Rosalie Edge has left for us.