TRR photos by Scott Rando

Many bald eagles can be seen migrating past ridges during October and November. At Sunrise Mountain, in Stokes State Forest in New Jersey, windy days with a northwest wind offer the best days to spot eagles.

Late fall raptors on the move

Thanksgiving is here, and most birds that migrate are where they have to be for the winter. People may have noticed tiny ducks on area lakes; these are buffleheads that came down from Canada in late October, and they will stay until lakes start freezing over. Many robins are making a move south, but a few will stay in the region and use food sources such as leftover berries to sustain them through the winter.

In the September 26 issue of River Talk, I spoke of the migration of broad-winged hawks. These hawks get an early start for the trip south, leaving in mid-September. The raptors that leave in the later part of fall represent a good cross-section of the region’s population of birds of prey. Falcons such as the peregrine falcon, merlins and American kestrels are on the move, as well as sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, both in the Buteo family. Later in October is the time for eagles, where both bald and golden eagles can be seen migrating. Some migrating red-tailed hawks are seen, and a northern goshawk or two may be spotted.

Some individuals of various species may not migrate at all. Our resident adult eagles have adequate foraging opportunities on the rivers and other open areas of water. The bald eagles that come to the region during winter are largely from Canada. A few golden eagles, also from Canada, come south. A few golden eagles winter in our region and you may spot them while watching for bald eagles.

During the winter of 2006, a golden eagle was captured by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in our region during an eagle telemetry study. To see where this adult female golden eagle went in the spring to raise her young, visit


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