|Cerulean Warblers are rare and in decline
While many species of wildlife can be seen at Skinner, it
is the birds that attract the most attention. Long a favorite
of birdwatchers and hawk watchers, the park has several species
of interest. The Cerulean Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler are
rare in Massachusetts and their numbers are declining across
the country. Both have been regularly seen along the park road. Indigo
Buntings are frequently seen from the porch of the
Summit House. Common Ravens and Bald
Eagles can also be seen soaring along the ridge.
The Summit House is one of the finest spots to observe hawks
migrating in the fall. The Mt. Holyoke Range and Mt. Tom Range
capture surface winds and creates updrafts on which hawks
ride. When the wind blows from the northwest, hawks can be
seen gliding and soaring above Skinner State Park. The Connecticut
River, which runs southward from the watershed dividing Canada
from northern New Hampshire, provides the most direct and easily
followed route for the birds to migrate.
|Indigo Buntings are frequently seen
Hawk migration begins in mid-September and continues through
November with different species moving through at different
times. First come large flights of Broad-winged
Hawks: it is
not unusual to see several thousand birds pass the Summit House.
A steady northwest wind gives the hawks a tail wind and sunny
skies warm the earth, creating rising currents of air or thermals.
The soaring hawks rise up on the thermals and then glide to
the next thermal, which enables them to travel many miles without
flapping their wings.
As well as Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered
Hawks can be seen migrating past the Summit House.
Three species of accipiters, or true hawks, which can be recognized
by their long tails and broad stout wings, are also often seen:
Sharp-shinned Hawk, Coopers Hawk, and the Northern
Peregrine Falcons and occasional Northern
Harriers have been
spotted by hawk watchers on Mt Holyoke.