For decades, Hazel Bazemore Park has been a popular choice for many to observe and count raptors as they migrate through this area on their fall journey south.
Dane Ferrell of HawkWatch International joined us on 3 News First Edition to tell us more about their epic journey.
Ferrell told us migration time can vary by each species. Some of these raptors come from as far north as Canada and some travel as far as South America, others start in Oklahoma and travel only to southern Mexico.
The HawkWatch International migration count starts August 1st and lasts through November 15th.
Species like Mississippi Kites and Swallow-tailed Kites breed in Texas and nearby states and therefore are the earliest migrants seen – in August through early September. Later in the season, in mid-September, we see more hawks and falcons and then even later, in October and November, we will see Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks.
Raptors are birds of prey all sharing three characteristics: 1) excellent eyesight, 2) sharp talons and 3) a
hooked bill for tearing prey. You've heard the saying "Eagle Eye" or "Eyes like a Hawk" - that's because raptors can see four to five times farther than humans can. An eagle can see an ant on the ground from the top of a ten story building. So they use this super sharp eyesight to find prey, then use their deadly talons to catch, hold, and carry prey. They use their hooked bill much like we use a knife and fork - their beak is curved at the tip with sharp cutting edges to tear apart prey to make small bites.
In most environments, raptors are at the top of the food chain and the only thing than feeds on them are other, bigger raptors. Unfortunately, the greatest risk to hawks and eagles is humans. They are killed on our highways by vehicles, electrocuted on our power lines and fly into clear glass windows and doors. We cause habitat destruction, we use poison for mice and rats, and there are still people who shoot raptors. One of our goals is to educate people about the benefits hawks provide in our own backyards in the hopes that people will protect them rather than persecute them.
All are welcome to visit Hazel Bazemore County Park in Calallen. The Celebration of Flight is September 22 – 24th and is scheduled during the peak of migration.
These days are your best chance to see tens of thousands of migrating raptors in one day. You can get more information about the festival on the HawkWatch International website - www.hawkwatch.org. You can also join the HawkWatch International and Corpus Christi HawkWatch groups on Facebook.