As I walk up the trail leading to the watch platform in the morning, I often run into fall warblers and other migrant passerines. Seats on the wooden platform provide an expansive easterly view toward Connecticut and Long Island Sound.
Standardized hawk counts have taken place here since 1979. The Bedford Audubon Society hires a hawk counter and an intern every year, and the watch is manned daily from late August to late November, weather permitting.
Raptors are the stars, of course, but Chestnut Ridge is also a great spot to watch songbirds in the morning, nighthawks in the evening, and migrating hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. — Tait Johansson
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Ridge at edge of deciduous forest.
Watch site is a short hike up an uneven, sloping trail. Sanctuary contains 6.6 miles of trails.
Black and Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Goshawk, Red-shouldered, Broad-winged, and Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon. Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, and other migrants. Rarities: Swainson’s Hawk, Sandhill Crane.
When to go
Autumn. Broad-winged Hawk migration peaks September 12-27. Best flights after the passage of a cold front and when winds are from the northwest, north, or northeast.
Wooden observation platform with seats. Hawk counter on site August-November and intern September-October. Bedford Audubon Society and nearby Westmoreland Sanctuary offer several field trips to Chestnut Ridge each fall. No restrooms, food, or water.
Nature Conservancy sanctuary. Free parking; no entrance fee. Open year-round. Hawk watch sponsored by Nature Conservancy and Bedford Audubon Society.
Bring a spotting scope, a hat with a brim, and sunscreen.
For more info
Bedford Audubon Society, (914) 232-1999.
Chestnut Ridge Hawk Watch
Chestnut Ridge Facebook page
Arthur W. Butler Sanctuary
New York City-area Rare Bird Alert, including Westchester County, (212) 979-3070.
About 21 miles from Chestnut Ridge in Rye, New York. Small area of salt marsh on Long Island Sound. Good for passerines and waterbirds.
Croton Point Park
17 miles from Chestnut Ridge in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Excellent for fall sparrows, other migrants. Grassland area especially good for open-country species.