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A Window to Nature
Sandy Repash
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Sep 8, 2002
As a life long resident of the Lehigh Valley, I've always enjoyed the pastoral scenery and taken a great deal of pleasure in the outdoors and the wildlife within, especially when it comes to birds.

My interest in birding began in 1978 when I moved to the country and hung a small feeder near the bay window of my cottage in the woods. Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide to North American Birds followed, and the rest is birding history.
Whether it was a planned trip or a spontaneous urge, each outing always managed to reveal another window of exciting discovery.

I've been greeted by the Osprey at eye level from the top of a cliff at the Delaware Water Gap. I've been startled by the Great Blue Heron while paddling around the bend in my canoe on the Delaware River below. I've been welcomed by the "teacher - teacher" call of the Oven Bird returning to her summer home as I hiked along the Appalachian Trail. I've even taken to the air myself and discovered a different view of the Red Tailed Hawk gliding beneath the basket of our hot air balloon as we drifted over the picturesque fields of Upper Bucks County. But my favorite birding adventure of all, the one I return to year after year after year, is the fall raptor migration at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary near Kempton, PA.

There, while perched on top of the North Lookout along the Kitatinny Ridge, I can witness the "grand promenade" of majestic aero acrobats. American Bald Eagles, Northern Harrier marsh hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, Golden Eagles, broadwinged, sharpshinned, and redtailed hawks are but to name a few. Hawk Mountain is one of a few places in the world where the topographical structure of the ridge provides an updraft, allowing the birds to "float" on down the "river of air" for that part of their journey, while they conserve precious energy needed to reach their destination.

It is this convergence of "ridge and raptor" that brings to the spectator the chance to bear witness to the awesome beauty of a force of nature that has been taking place for millennium, long before our arrival. And as if that weren't exciting enough, this "grand flyway" is a "super highway south" for many other migratory species as well. Songbirds, hummingbirds, warblers, Monarch butterflies, dragonflies, ravens and black vultures can be seen as they pass through this mountain junction.

And there is activity on the ground as well, which is where the excitement of discovery comes in. As I walk up the trail to the North Lookout I wonder...what will it be? I know for certain I will see the cheerful chipmunks and the gray squirrels -- they are always there to welcome everyone to the mountain. But what else will I see through my mountain window today? A Pileated Woodpecker? A Ruby-throated hummingbird? A Golden Eagle? Will the birds be soaring high up in the blue or will they surprise me by darting up over the ridge out of nowhere?

My outdoor adventures have taken me from the Everglades in Florida, to Baxter State Park in Maine. From the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Mt. McKinley in Alaska. I've been from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic Circle and back again. Of all the windows to nature I have looked through along the way, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is, and will always remain my very special place. How fortunate I am to call this place "home".

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