‘Hawk Watch’ to begin at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge (National Fish & Wildlife Service)

HARLINGEN — Even sitting back in a lawn chair, scanning the sky can be valuable to science.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is about to begin its annual “Hawk Watch” in which volunteers camp out from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the refuge’s levee, glassing the skies for raptors.

“All of the raptors, the vultures, and every kind of hawk,” said Christine Donald, outdoor recreation planner and site manager at Santa Ana. Since its inception in 1990, Hawk Watch has recorded nearly two dozen raptor species.

Hawk Watch is an annual survey of migrating birds of prey through the Rio Grande Valley. Data collected by volunteers, wildlife biologists and birders includes bird numbers, migration patterns and behaviors.

This information is then sent to the Hawk Migration Association of North America, based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, to be compiled and added to the database of raptor populations.

“It’s a good process to learn about how they study hawks as it goes back to the observatory, the bird folks, and they want to know the numbers,” Donald added.

The annual Hawk Watch begins Friday and continues daily through April 15. Participation is free with refuge admission.