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 the Greenwich Audubon Center Main Sanctuary property. 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.
Enjoy the amazing fall migration spectacle this season! Stop by the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch site at Greenwich Audubon Center for a chance to view the thousands of raptors that pass over Greenwich on their way to their winter destinations.
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 Greenwich Audubon Center 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, our center is happy to let you use one of our loaner pairs during your visit.
Weather conditions often determine the number of hawks seen migrating each day. The optimal conditions for viewing large flights are typically partly cloudy days following a cold front with Northwest winds. Northerly winds will push large numbers of hawks southward towards Long Island Sound and partly cloudy skies provide an ideal backdrop for viewing. Warm days with Southerly winds will often have very low daily counts of migrating hawks. Steady rain, snow or fog will typically cancel hawk counting for the day.
Quaker Ridge History
In the late 1960s, 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 migrating raptors that are observed here each year is one of the key reasons why the Greenwich Audubon Center Main Sanctuary is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Become a Quaker Ridge Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Ryan MacLean 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 Hawk Migration Association of North America's 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 2022 was 28,016. 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.
Hawk Watch Weekend 2023
Greenwich Audubon Center is thrilled to announce our two-day celebration of the importance of birds of prey and their incredible migratory journeys. While not of the large scale of our previous Fall Festivals, this all-ages event will feature hawk & bird related activities for the whole family to promote the importance of raptor conservation.
Attendees will be able to enjoy meeting hawks & owls up close during Live Raptor Presentations by falconers & local wildlife rehabilitators, Live Bird Banding of migratory songbirds as well as learn how to identify the dozens of species of migratory hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures over our heads during Raptor Identification Workshops. Bird-related activities for kids will include Owl Pellet dissections and migration games.