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First Week of FKH 2013: Ospreys on the Move

September 22, 2013


Ospreys take the lead, but Peregrine Falcons are quick to follow. Broad-winged Hawks are making their presence. Photos taken by Rafael Galvez with a Leica V-Lux 4.

As we finalize the first week of the 2013 hawkwatch at Curry Hammock State Park with a total of 456 Ospreys, we have already tallied 42% of the average yearly count for that species. Daily Osprey counts this season are:

OSPREY2 L1000449b bbbSept. 15 – 44
Sept. 16 – 4
Sept. 17 – 15
Sept. 18 – 184
Sept. 19 – 46
Sept. 20 – 70
Sept. 21 – 93

Ospreys peak early in the season in the Florida Keys. This year they continue telling an interesting story. Unlike the majority of migratory raptors during the fall, which tend to follow the NE to SW trajectory dictated by the Keys’ land chain, many Ospreys have been observed flying directly south. On Sept. 18, we observed approximately 100 Ospreys flying in from the Bay, apparently bypassing the Keys to continue directly southward over the ocean in the direction of Cuba. In the following days we continued seeing this behavior by many other Ospreys. This is not always the case at our site, since typically Ospreys can be seen on the move following along the South Florida islands. It has been my suspicion that we miss a great number of Ospreys from our site since they could be briefly crossing over the Keys at any other point NE or SW of us. Many of the Ospreys we’ve been observing in this direct southbound flight have been anywhere from 1 to 3 km from our site.

Below are some maps extracted from research by R. Bierregaard, Jr. at the UNC-Charlotte Biology Dept. on tracking the migrations of Ospreys with satellite transmitters. You can read more about the work at

UNCC OspreysIt is worth noting how the direct southward movements of the Ospreys we have been observing from FKH are echoed in the flights of the birds tracked as part of the UNCC study.

The Florida Keys Hawkwatch season-to-date totals (visit for more details) include:

9-21-13 b

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2013 9:39 pm

    All those broadwings! Haven’t seen any yet here at Cape Florida; spending too much time in the woods I suppose. Have been seeing Merlins every day.

  2. September 26, 2013 10:06 am

    Very interesting re the Osprey. It would be nice if we had some satellite tracking data for all the species we see at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch. We have to wonder if we are missing some others that have multiple migratory routes through the Keys besides the Osprey.

  3. Charlene Brown permalink
    October 2, 2013 10:37 pm

    I have been seeing many Osprey heading south while out fishing offshore and on the reef. Especially the last 2 weeks of Sept. Where are they headed? Cuba? Is that their wintering area?

    • October 4, 2013 8:04 pm

      Many Osprey do indeed head towards Cuba, the Caribbean and South America via the Florida Keys during our fall migration. Many times they completely overlook the Keys and continue flying south, often taking the eastern Cuba route.

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