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Flurry of hawks a highlight of Hawkwatch weekend along Glenn Highway

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published April 17, 2017

Some 100 birdwatchers a day turned out Saturday and Sunday for the Big Hawkwatch Weekend organized along the Glenn Highway by Anchorage Audubon Society.

"It went extremely well, but it was sort of weird," said W. Keys, president of Anchorage Audubon. "It was a slow weekend for birds, but there was a big flurry Saturday afternoon when 58 hawks in an hour came roaring through."

That amounted to about half the birds spotted all day. Sunday proved a little slower, Keys said, but with lots of diversity.

"Every bird you'd expect to get was there," he said.

Posters show the key identifying traits of sharp-shinned hawks and northern goshawks during HawkWatch on Sunday. “I don’t care how many pictures you look at, how many books you read, nothing substitutes being out and actually seeing the birds fly and migrate,” said Neil Paprocki, a conservation biologist for HawkWatch International. (Rugile Kaladyte / Alaska Dispatch News)

The site at Mile 118.8 of the Glenn Highway, in the shadow of Gunsight Mountain, is about a two-hour drive from Anchorage. Until mid-May, Harlan's hawks, rough-legged hawks, northern harriers and falcons are expected to continue flying through a pass in Gunsight Mountain.

The birding opportunities didn't cease when the watchers returned to Anchorage on Sunday night. A white-headed emperor goose, a threatened species that seldom visits Alaska's largest city, tending to prefer western Alaska, was at the pond in the Cuddy Family Midtown Park. So at about 6:30 p.m., Keys immediately drove to the park — as did several other Audubon members — to find the goose still there.

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