Quaker Ridge is one of the many official hawk counting locations across the nation that tallies 17 raptor species and provides data to scientists who are working to gauge the health of the raptor populations in this hemisphere.
Each fall, thousands of hawks, eagles, and falcons migrate over the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch site, which is located at Audubon Greenwich's Main Sanctuary and Center. Quaker Ridge is one of the highest points in Greenwich and is an excellent vantage point for spotting raptors coming from the north. The migration peaks often occur in mid-September on days when the winds are from the north. Sometimes hawk watchers spot several thousand Broad-winged Hawks in a single day.
Plan a Visit
The public is welcome to visit our center throughout the year, but the best time to visit Quaker Ridge is in the fall to witness the incredible spectacle of the hawk migration. The Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch is located on the large lawn adjacent to the Audubon Center in Greenwich parking lot. Adirondack lawn chairs are available to visitors or you can watch the action from your own blanket.
During the fall, our expert hawk watcher is on hand Monday through Friday from approximately 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. to count and identify all hawks, fill out hourly weather data, and assist visitors. On weekends, our skilled volunteers handle the duties. Since many of the hawks are high in the sky, binoculars are needed to get a good look at them. If you don't have binoculars, Audubon Greenwich is happy to let you use one of our loaner pairs during your visit.
To coincide with the migration peaks, Audubon Greenwich hosts the Fall Festival & Hawk Watch celebration in September. This exciting event features live birds of prey presentations, flying raptor identification workshops, eco-friendly exhibits, and lots of fun bird-themed activities for kids and families.
Quaker Ridge History
In the late 1960’s, birders in the Fairfield County, Connecticut area began searching for sites where large numbers of migrant raptors could be observed. Over a dozen sites were tested on weekends for a few years, until the number of prime sites was reduced to three or four. Eventually, it was determined that Quaker Ridge was by far the best site in the area.
Since 1972, migrating hawks have been counted by volunteers as they pass over Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch. In 1985, the Audubon Society of Greenwich hired a full-time watcher for the site—and a paid hawk watcher has manned the site every year since.
The significant number of migranting raptors that are observed here each year is one of the key reasons why the Audubon Greenwich Main Sanctuary is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Become a Quaker Ridge Citizen Scientist
As one of the premier hawk watches in the northeast, Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch is a prime location for collecting data on fall raptor migration and serves as an important hub for Audubon Citizen Science coordination with birders and nature enthusiasts throughout Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, and lower Westchester County in New York.
From late August to late November, volunteer Citizen Science hawk watchers count and observe thousands of raptors that pass over the site heading south for the winter. The data is compiled and recorded to help advance scientific study and research. On a good day with northwest winds, one may see a good variety and large number of hawks such as eagles, Kestrels, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Ospreys, Broad-winged Hawks, and Peregrine Falcons among others.
If you are interested in helping with the count, contact Ted Gilman at 203-930-1353 or email.
View Daily & Seasonal Hawk Watching Data
Want to know what has flown over Quaker Ridge? You can look up daily, monthly, or annual hawk sightings from the Greenwich site by going to the national Hawk Count website at www.hawkcount.org (and searching for "Quaker Ridge"). For example, the total count for raptors overhead at Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch in the fall of 2005 was 14,554. At the Hawk Count website, you can also look up the latest numbers from other counting sites, including Hawk Mountain in Pennslyvania and Cape May in New Jersey.