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Swainson’s Hawks by the Thousands – Hal Cohen – Monthly General Meeting
February 20 @ 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Join BVAS for our Monthly General Meeting:
This March, if rains have graced the Anza-Borrego Desert, an explosion will occur. Blooms of lily, primrose, and sand verbena will blanket the valley floor. Neon-colored Sphinx Moth caterpillars then emerge to decapitate the flowers. And thousands of Swainson’s Hawks will divert from their 6,000-mile migration to feast on the protein-and fat-rich larvae. Indeed, 2017 was such a year. Among the Swainson’s Hawks, word must have gotten out: 11,690 of these hawks were counted, compared to the 16-year average of 4,737. Contrast these numbers to 1983, when a scant 375 breeding pairs were tallied in all of California.
At the center of it all stands Hal Cohen. A retired marine biologist with decades of Midwestern hawkwatches to his credit, Cohen landed in Anza-Borrego in 2001. Hawkwatching there would not begin, however, until 36 Turkey Vultures put down outside his home in February of 2003. Scope in hand, he tracked their onward flight. It wasn’t long before it became evident that another majestic bird shared the thruway. By April of that year, 2,031 Swainson’s Hawks (and 310 Turkey Vultures) had been counted. The Borrego Valley Hawk-Watch was born.
Each year, Hal’s army of hawk watchers grows. Whether they spot one hawk among the blooms devouring dozens of caterpillars or hundreds kettling in a hawk tornado, it’s the sighting of a lifetime. Let 2019 be your year. Join us as Hal “Hawk Guy” Cohen brings this tale to life.
This event is free and open to the public, but donations are accepted and encouraged.
Social starts at 6:30pm
Program starts at 7pm