Bay Nature magazineFall 2010


Fall Hawk Watch, Open During Construction

October 1, 2010

Soupfin sharks aren’t the only charismatic predators that visit the Bay Area seasonally. For 26 years, hawk watchers with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO) have climbed 920 feet to the top of Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands to record the fall migration of raptors, which usually peaks between mid-September and mid-October. Last year, on one of the most active days, volunteers facing each cardinal direction counted 13 species and a total of 591 raptors in six hours. While the sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, red-shouldered, and red-tailed hawks fly overhead, up to 400 curious onlookers gather on the ground to watch the birds and to learn about hawk migration.

This year, the program will look a little different. An extensive road improvement project in the Marin Headlands will keep Upper Conzelman Road and Hawk Hill closed through mid- to late October. While it won’t affect the birds overhead, road construction will change the migratory patterns of the people on the ground. During the closure, GGRO has two goals: to avoid a significant gap in the organization’s 26-year run of fall migration records, and to provide a public viewing location, this year on Lower Conzelman Road, about three quarters of a mile from Highway 101. At this wide turnout with four benches, docents will be on hand Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of October. For information, go to

About the Author

Writer Aleta George trained as a Jepson Prairie docent in 2009. In addition to writing Bay Nature's Ear to the Ground column, she has written for Smithsonian, High Country News, and the Los Angeles Times.

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