Hawk Migration Watch at Fort Washington State Park

standing on the hawk watching platform, the raptors fly over these ridges toward you
standing on the hawk watching platform, the raptors fly over these ridges toward you

Sunday, I went to watch raptors migrating. I didn’t need to go to Hawk Mountain or drive two hours in the early morning hours. I drove a few miles from the northwest section of Philadelphia to Fort Washington State Park.

I arrived about 10 a.m. and it was cool and rainy. The sky was thick with low-lying clouds. I doubted I would see any birds. And I was right, I only saw one osprey.

But, it was good to be outside and songbirds were busy feeding at the well-stocked feeders in front of the hawk watching platform.

Migration patterns at Militia Hill
Migration patterns at Militia Hill

All 16 of the raptor species that migrate along the east coast fly right over Fort Washington State Park. A roomy Hawk Watch platform is a comfortable place to watch.

A couple of years ago I asked a seasoned bird if he had been to Hawk Mountain. He surprised me when he said no, that he could see all the raptors just a few miles away at Fort Washington State Park.

The park consists of 493 acres of woods in eastern Montgomery County. The park is located between the communities of Fort Washington and Flourtown along Bethelem Pike. It is close to route 73, route 276 (PA turnpike) and route 309. It lies a few miles outside the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. I think there might be a SEPTA bus stop not too far away.

hawk watch platform, Fort Washington State Park

The Hawk Watch platform is on Militia Hill Road off of the Skippack Pike entrance to the park. Parking is directly across the road from the Hawk Watch platform.

If you would like to see the raptors, the “Watch” begins on September 1 and lasts through October 31, each year. Volunteers compilers are on duty every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Why drive for several hours when you can witness the great migrations so close to home?

2 comments

  1. hello my name is kevin potter I live in Marysville wa. the last 2 years I have seen what I thought was a pair of bats white one’s .
    over the last 3 week’s I have seen then agin . they make a sound like a click and a sweek .
    but last night I got a better look there was only one and this is at night but the wing;s came to a point and it’s wing span was more then a sea gull and the boby was wider but all white from tip to tip did not see it’s back .
    so what I would like to know is there a hawk like that around here
    And if you know anything about bat’s I would like to know if there are any bat’s of the same size
    thank you

    • Hi, Kevin

      You could try the All About Birds” http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/ac. This page shows birds profiles.

      From what you write, the birds you saw may have been a swallow or accipiter hawk. They have a pointed wing shape.

      But swallows fly at dusk and accipiter hawks are day-time fliers.

      Try the website above to eliminate the possibilities.

      I don’t know much about bats but there are white-bodied bats in North America.

      A trip the local library and looking in a book on bats should help. Or you could ask a local birding group or nature center or park ranger.

      Good luck and thanks for contacting me.
      Donna

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