Bald Eagle, by John Drake

The Birding Club of Delaware County (BCDC) established the Rose Tree Park Hawkwatch (RTPHW), the county’s first and only hawkwatch, in 1999. Located along the Atlantic flyway, Rose Tree Park in Media, PA features an expansive open landscape and raptors soaring on steady winds during spring and fall migration.

Each autumn, volunteer counters spend hundreds of person-hours at Rose Tree Park, scanning skies daily for nearly 3 months, tallying migrating hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures. Myriad information is collected and contributed to the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA), committed to the scientific study, enjoyment, and appreciation of raptor migration. HMANA manages a database reflecting migratory raptor statistics from 200 sites across the continent.

In fall 2022, the team decided to host a pilot hawkwatching station at Smedley Tract, Middletown Township, in addition to the regular daily schedule at Rose Tree Park. It was a challenge to cover both locations, but it gleaned some interesting, if inconclusive, insights noted in the 2022 post-season report by Chris Pugliese.

In fall 2023, Chris Pugliese passed the leadership reigns to Alan Simon, who organized volunteers in counting hawks only at Rose Tree Park. BCDC extends deep gratitude and appreciation to all the dedicated 2023 RTPHW hawkwatchers: Debbie Beer, Tom Bush, Bruce Childs, Dave Eberly, Sheryl Johnson, Bob Kelly, John Mercer, Chris Pugliese, Chuck Root, Alan Simon, and all who stopped by to say hello and offer friendly encouragement. Special thanks to Alan Simon for leading the initiative and organizing counters, and to Dave Eberly and John Mercer for submitting daily data to HMANA.

All are welcome to join hawk watchers at Rose Tree Park. Volunteer counters with spotting scopes are usually at the park gazebo daily from mid-August through mid-November, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (longer on weekends), weather permitting. Bring binoculars, good cheer, and willingness to learn, share, and help scan the skies for migrating raptors.

Rose Tree Park and Smedley Tract (Middletown Township) are active eBird hotspots – click for details about year-round bird sightings.

Rose Tree Park Hawkwatch History
The Rose Tree Park Hawk Watch (RTPHW) became an official hawk watch site on August 14, 1999 after several years of trial counts to see whether the location would be a viable site. Nick Pulcinella originally started counting at Rose Tree Park as time permitted in the fall and then added spring to his casual counts as well. As a result, Rose Tree Park, Media PA, became a common gathering place for birders during favorable migration periods in both seasons. A trial count was conducted in spring 1999 and the site was staffed (by volunteers) on a daily basis over a period of time. Dave Washabaugh along with others dedicated long hours to demonstrate that Rose Tree Park would be a viable hawk watch site. In summer 1999, Dave Washabaugh and Jim Lockyer formalized the establishment of RTPHW as an official site recognized by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). In spring 2001, RTPHW was added to the Hawks Aloft Worldwide database for being noted as a “significant and active hawk watch site.”

In 2003 Holly Merker and Janet Crawford co-compiled raptor data with Jim Lockyer, continuing after he stepped down in 2004. Holly was the sole compiler from 2007 or 2008 until 2018, when John Mercer and Dave Eberly took-on compiler roles. Early dedicated volunteer hawk watchers include: Gary Becker, Bill Calafut, Bill Cranney, Janet Crawford, John D’Amico, Dave Eberly, Al Guarente, Charlie Haag, Chris Langman, Jim Lockyer, Doris McGovern, Tom McParland, Jim McVoy, John Mercer, Holly Merker, Chris Pugliese, Nick Pulcinella, Bill Roache, Shirley Robbins, Charles Smith, Dave Washabaugh.

The RTPHW held a spring (mid-March through April) hawk watch through 2008, in addition to the fall season (mid-August through mid-November), with volunteers on-site daily, weather permitting. Since 2008 the RTPHW has been conducted in the fall only. RTPHW contributes data to the HMANA, BirdSource and BirdWatch at Cornell University, and to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Apologies for any omissions or errors in this historical summary of the RTPHW. If anyone has additional historical info, please share with