Militia Hill Hawk Watch 2000

by | Nov 8, 2000 | Hawk Watch Updates

2000 Season Report
by Jane Henderson

14,526 Broad-winged Hawks, 35 Bald Eagles, 2 Golden Eagles, as well as Pipevine Swallowtail and Variegated Fritillary butterflies combined to make 2000 a “wonderful year” at Militia Hill Hawkwatch, according to founder Marylea Klauder.

September 22 was the biggest broad-wing day this season, with 4613 birds identified and counted. September 25 was next with 3 711. On September 21, Bird #125,000 for MHHW migrated over the platform. Appropriately enough, it was a broad-wing. The year 2000 turned out to be the third biggest broad-wing year in the history of MHHW.


On October 30, when a cold front passed through after several days of unseasonably warm weather, a Rough-legged Hawk and a Golden Eagle were recorded. As of those sightings, all of the anticipated northeastern species of raptors had made an appearance. To top it off, a second Golden Eagle was spotted on the very last day. When all the numbers were in at the end of October, MHHW had logged over 135,000 birds since the site was established in 1988.

Unusual sightings this year included a Merlin, which perched for a time on the green pole, and a single Swainson’s Hawk in early October. But raptors were not the sole attraction. A skein of Snow Geese, a flock of Brant and a few loons were sighted flying over, and a Yellow-breasted Chat was spotted in the brush pile near the bird feeders. As always, Chimney Swifts filled the sky nearly every day. There were always Monarchs, too, but this year their numbers were significantly down.

Although migrating raptors are the raison d’etre of the hawkwatch at Militia Hill, they comprise only a fraction of the activity there. Many school groups visited, including a first time group from Germantown Friends School. On four consecutive Friday afternoons, an ecology class from Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia Textile) came to Militia Hill to learn about the raptor migration, as well as about other aspects of the park environment. They were treated to an up close and personal encounter with a young Red-tailed Hawk which flew by at such close range that all of the students were able to get a good look at it.

Hawkwatch regulars Clair Burnett and Marylea Klauder, expertly guided by Eva Abreham, became involved in locating various types of fungi in the park, and were able to photograph and identify nearly 40 different species. Three different box turtles were discovered and photographed, and on one occasion, Phil Klauder brought a six-foot black rat snake from another part of the park for everyone to examine.

On a regular basis, volunteers aided the park maintenance crew. In addition to the usual clean-up and deck restoration activities, they also helped to assemble 30 new picnic tables for the park. Once again this year, Bob Puksta and Bill Murphy kept the bird feeders clean and full.

Last spring, for the first time, Great Horned Owls nested on the platform in the woods that Charlie Wonderly had put up five years ago. They raised one chick. The owls were back again at the end of the hawk watching season, and it is hoped that they will once again decide to nest there.

A Halloween party, attended by 55 people, closed hawk watching activities for this year. John Heinz, one of the regulars at the hawkwatch for many years, read his poem in which he cleverly named all of this year’s active participants.



2000 Season Compilers


Don Aiman Hank Ballerstedt Judy Barnes
Harvey Bass Anita Beaumont Alan Brady
Erica Brendel Clair Burnett Randy Clouser
Erle Ehly Dick Flavell Bert Filemyr
Steve Grunwald Marya Halderman Cliff Hence
Jane Henderson Jeff Herbst Chuck Hetzel
Jim Hunt Sheryl Johnson Dr. George Layne
Bill Murphy Elmer Schorle Matt Sharp
John Ward Chris Walters Frank Welsh
Charlie Wonderly