Catch the spring hawk migration at Braddock Bay

Every year at this time there are many people, locally and from across the nation, come to Braddock Bay Park near Rochester at the shore of Lake Ontario, in hope to see the spring hawk migration as these birds return back to their more northern breeding grounds.These birds of prey fly together in a group called a kettle. It is the way the birds swirl around in this flight pattern as they’re riding the thermals of air rising, that is like how a cooking kettle boils and rolls, hence the name.There are about 16 species of birds of prey that are apt to be sighted at this hawk platform. They range from bald eagles, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, American kestrels, peregrine falcons, osprey, sharp-shinned hawks, merlin, Cooper’s hawk, turkey vultures, broad-winged hawks, rough-legged hawks, northern goshwaks, and a few others.Binoculars, long camera lenses, or spotting scopes are some of the means to get great sightings, though sometimes these birds are right overhead in which the bare eye is all you need.This area of Braddock Bay Park is one of the few spring migration routes that exist on the east coast, in which people can literally see thousands of birds above them in a day. The best time to view these flights are when there is a south west wind of 10-15 mph.This upcoming weekend is the 30th annual Bird of Prey Days. There are going to be many great activities to partake in and enjoy, including owl prowl walks through Owl Woods. Please visit the Braddock Bay Raptor Research page on Facebook to learn more.I hope to see you there… I’ll be camped out all weekend!– Laurie Dirkx for FingerLakes1.com

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