September 1st to November 30th is known as hawk season for the Montclair Hawkwatch. The Hawkwatch is a sanctuary of the New Jersey Audubon — an environmental education and conservation advocacy organization. This season boasts some of the most incredible sightings of birds and hawks in their migration, making it an excellent local spot to see some wildlife. The Montclair Hawkwatch is located on the first ridge west of the lower Hudson River Valley, which makes for the most interesting combination of both coastal and ridge flights. We took a trip over to the Montclair Hawkwatch, the nation’s second oldest continuous hawkwatch, to give you everything you need to know about this historical site and how to prepare for your visit. Read on to learn more about the Montclair Hawkwatch.
About the Montclair Hawkwatch
Located at approximately 31 Edgecliff Road sits the entrance to the Montclair Hawkwatch. After a short walk through the woods and ascending a few flights of stairs, you’ll reach the top of this 500-foot basalt ledge to a well-constructed, stone-filled platform known as the Montclair Hawkwatch.
The Montclair Hawkwatch is a sanctuary of the New Jersey Audubon, an environmental education and conservation advocacy organization founded in 1897. The New Jersey Audubon Society is one of New Jersey’s largest environmental organizations with 10 nature centers and 34 nature preserves. The Hawkwatch was founded on September 18th, 1959 and is the New Jersey Audubon’s smallest sanctuary at only one acre. It is the second oldest continuous hawkwatch in the nation.
The view from the top of the ledge is breathtaking for such a densely populated area. Notable sights from this location include Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the entire New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and all the way down to the Palisades.
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Other than the magnificent panoramic views, hawks are a pretty popular sighting as well. October is considered one of the most interesting times to visit the lookout, according to the website. Chances of Merlin and Peregrine falcon spotting tends to rise as broad-winged hawks flights end mid-month. Red-tailed and red-shouldered hawk sightings rise as the month comes to a close.
Can’t make it this October? No worries. November is a remarkable month to visit as well. Golden Eagles are known to make sight in the chilly November air, along with the red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. Additionally, the rough-legged hawk, a friend from the far north, is a possibility this month.
How To Get There + What to Bring
The Montclair Hawkwatch is located at approximately 31 Edgecliff Road, about a quarter-mile right off of Bradford Avenue. The New Jersey Audubon recommends parking well off the side of the road and on the shoulder. The lookout path is located on the south side of the road and is marked with a small green “Montclair Hawkwatch” sign. Follow the path up several staircases until you reach the top.
Comfortable shoes are an absolute must for this visit! Although the climb up is short, it can be tricky to navigate in unfamiliar shoes. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and dress in layers. The New Jersey Audubon also recommends bringing along patience and binoculars as well.