Join us for HMANA’s Hawk-watching Conference in Rochester, NY this April

I am thrilled to report that the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) will hold its 40th Anniversary hawkwatching conference here in Rochester, NY, this spring. Check your calendars and please join me here this April 25-27th! PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!

Braddock Bay Hawkwatch by Luke Tiller

Braddock Bay hawkwatch platform. © Catherine Hamilton

Braddock Bay, located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in western NY, is one of the best sites on the continent to observe hawk migration in spring. Like many Great Lakes communities, the Rochester region is quietly known as having many productive birding hotspots, especially during spring and fall. What people don’t know, however, is how special it is for hawk migration.

Luke Tiller, a professional hawk counter (yes, those exist!), has been counting passage hawks at the Braddock Bay hawkwatch platform for three seasons. “On average, more than 50,000 raptors pass through over a three-month period, making it one of the prime hawkwatching sites in the entire country.”

“Three years ago, on April 27, 2011, I witnessed a remarkable flight over Rochester and tallied 42, 235 hawks – the great majority Broad-winged – which was the biggest spring flight days recorded in U.S. and Canada.” That is a mind-blowing experience for any birdwatcher, to be sure. And it’s no coincidence that the conference dates (April 25-27) overlaps with this historically interesting flight date!

Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk. ©  Catherine Hamilton

In any case, HMANA’s “Connecting Hawks and People” conference is going to be a great affair…hundreds of bird biologists and raptor enthusiasts will celebrate and experience raptor migration here on the western shore of Lake Ontario, and hopefully push the boundaries of our collective knowledge of raptors.

Several experts will be on hand to provide keynotes, expert raptor ID lessons and raptor photography workshops:

  • Keith L. Bildstein, Director of Conservation Science at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will give Friday’s keynote address.
  • Richard Crossley, author of Crossley Guide to Raptors and other field guides will give Saturday’s keynote and sign books.
  • Mike Lanzone, the technical consultant behind the pioneering Snowy Owl monitoring project, Project SNOWstorm
  • Luke Tiller, a professional hawk watcher, HMANA board member, and author of the hawkwatching blog, Under Clear Skies, will be guiding visitors at the hawkwatch platform and giving workshops.
  • Paul Schnell, with the Institute for Environmental Learning, will give raptor photography instruction (only $40!)
  • Brett Ewald, of Lakeshore Nature Tours, will be leading trips to the iconic Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (where I once held TWELVE juvenile Bald Eagles in a single scope view!) and along the lakeshore.

In addition, a number of birders from the local and national scene will volunteer or add to the general camaraderie, including Daena Ford, director of Braddock Bay Raptor Research, members of the Rochester Birding Association, Laurie Goodrich, senior monitoring biologist at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary; and even my favorite bird artist Catherine Hamilton.

Osprey by Laura Kammermeier

Osprey © Laura Kammermeier

If you come (you’re coming aren’t you?), be sure to try one of the field trips to Montezuma NWR or along the Ontario lakeshore for waterfowl, raptors, and early migrants; to Rochester’s famous Owl Woods, a reliable stopover for migrating Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls; and to raptor and passerine banding stations for great views of these birds in the hand. I understand that far-afield trips to Derby Hill (another top raptor location a few hours away) and to Roger Tory Peterson Institute are also being organized.

You might bring the kids along, as the family friendly Bird of Preys Days (hosted by Braddock Bay Raptor Research, BBBR) overlaps with the conference. Kids play for free!

Conference presentations and indoor workshops will be held at the Rochester Airport Marriott, 1890 Ridge Road West, Rochester, NY 14615, a 10-minute drive from Braddock Bay.

I  hope to see you there! If so, give me a holler as I’d like to organize a group meet-up.

Visit the HMANA website for more information and to register ($130 – $240) online at  A portion of your registration fees will go to support further hawk monitoring and research.

The 40th HMANA conference is sponsored by the Rochester Birding Association ( Nature Travel Network is a media sponsor for the event.

Birding from Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge observation deck. © Laura Kammermeier

Birding from Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge observation deck. © Laura Kammermeier

Laura Kammermeier

Laura Kammermeier is the creator and managing editor of Nature Travel Network. She is a writer, website producer, traveler, birder and a birding/nature travel consultant. Laura has traveled Uganda, Europe, Ecuador, Belize, Honduras, Israel, and throughout the United States Read More

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