Set sights high at 29th Hawk Watch

Raptor researcher Mike Havlik holds a banded red-tailed hawk before giving a demonstration at last year’s Hawk Watch at Effigy Mounds National Monument. (Photos courtesy of Effigy Mounds National Monument)

The 29th annual Hawk Watch at Effigy Mounds takes place on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hawk Watch is a free, family-oriented event in celebration of the annual fall hawk migration.

The Hawk Watch has grown to become quite an interesting, entertaining and informative event over the past 28 years. More than 1,800 people of all ages and backgrounds attended the two-day event last year to view exhibits, interact with presenters, participate in educational games, and, of course, view the many different species of hawks that migrate overhead by the hundreds, if not thousands.

“It’s a fun event for everybody,” said Hawk Watch Coordinator Dennis Kirschbaum. “Come on out and enjoy yourself watching the hawks fly by.”

There will be a variety of activities for people of all ages, including special kids’ activities such as hawk silhouettes on a stick, falconry knot bracelets, and construction of owl hats and masks. The children’s programs will run from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. both days. Also featured is a wing-span banner where visitors can compare their “wing span” with that of featured birds on the banner. Programs will take place both outdoors and in the auditorium. Birding and other educational items will be available in the visitor center bookstore.

The Saturday programs will be:

9 a.m. Viewing of American Eagle video by Neil Rettig
10 a.m. Hawk ID for Beginners with Mike Havlik
11:30 a.m. Peregrine Falcons in Iowa by Pat Schlarbaum
1 p.m. Life of Raptors (live bird presentation) by Diane Moller
2:30 p.m. What Do Birds Have to Teach Us? with Mike Havlik
3:30 p.m. Bird Monitoring by Jon Stravers

The Sunday programs will be:

9:30 a.m. Viewing of Winged Migration video
11 a.m. Big Owls Hoot, Little Owls Toot with Mike Havlik
1 p.m. Iowa’s Birds of Prey (live bird presentation) by Luke Hart of McBride Raptor Center
2:30 p.m. Ospreys in Iowa with Pat Schlarbaum

Hawk Watch at Effigy Mounds will also operate a count site where IDNR staff, Audubon members, Effigy Mounds staff, and volunteers will be identifying and counting migrants as they fly overhead. Typically several hundred migrants are counted each day, including sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks; red-tailed, red-shouldered and broad-winged hawks; peregrine falcons; ospreys; eagles; turkey vultures and others.  Spotting scopes will be set up in the observation area where expert birders will assist people in using the scopes and identifying the hundreds of hawks flying over the park.

For more information, contact the monument at 563-873-3491 ext. 202. The entire Hawk Watch itinerary can be found at  Hawk Watch is an annual program put on by Effigy Mounds National Monument and local volunteers, and it is a great time for people interested in volunteering to sign up for this and other events.

Hawk Watch is co-sponsored by the Upper Iowa Audubon Society, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Eastern National bookstores, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Program, and National Audubon’s Upper Mississippi River Campaign. It is powered by the boundless energy of volunteers and operated on a shoe-string budget — all of which add up to an event filled with enthusiasm and fun.

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