Hawk migration watch on Buffalo Mountain

Blue Ridge Heritage, Inc., in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, is offering a Fall Migration Hawk Watch on the summit of the Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve on Sunday, September 18, from about 10 a.m. through about 2 p.m. This program is free and open to the public, and dependent on weather conditions on the scheduled day.
Weather permitting, broad-winged hawks will be the most commonly observed raptor passing through early in the season. Last year, those involved with this program saw over 2,000 broad-winged hawks passing over Buffalo. In addition, a bald eagle and two peregrine falcons were spotted among other more common raptor species.
Other species that habitually move through this area in modest numbers include sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks and other birds like ravens, merlins and American kestrels.
Along with hawks and other birds like ravens, vultures, swallows and more, Monarch butterflies, swallow-tail butterflies, and a variety of plant species, three invertebrate species, and six natural communities that are rare in Virginia are commonly seen on this unique summit habitat.
The preserve is located in the southern corner of Floyd County Natural Heritage Program staff and Blue Ridge Heritage, Inc. volunteers will help identify species and have some observation/ID tools available for the public to use. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars as some birds may pass over at significant heights above the summit.
Other items to consider bringing are sunscreen, eyedrops, a lawn chair or cushion, water, and a bird field guide. Other considerations include wearing a pair of comfortable footwear suitable for traversing uneven terrain, and bringing a variety of clothing as weather conditions are subject to change during this time of year.
From Floyd, travel southwest on U.S. Route 221 about six miles to a low saddle in the ridge near the eastern slope of Buffalo Mountain. Turn right on the gravel access road. Go about one mile to the gravel parking area.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway, take Route 799 north about 1-1/2 miles to Route 604. Turn left and go about 1-1/2 miles to Route 727.
Turn left and go about one mile to a low saddle in the ridge near the eastern slope of Buffalo Mountain. Turn right on the gravel access road. Go about one mile to the gravel parking lot.

Participants of last year's hawk watch enjoyed the view from Buffalo Mountain.
Participants of last year’s hawk watch enjoyed the view from Buffalo Mountain.
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