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updated: 8/19/2013 6:10 PM

Learn why hawk migrations matter Sept. 3

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Warren Young

Hawk migrations are important to you and me. Every year hawks and their raptor cousins, fly north in the spring and south in the fall. Why does it matter? Hawks sit atop their food chains. Their migrations measure the health of the ecosystems where they winter and summer.

The Hawkwatch program measures the migrations. Find out why hawk migrations are so important. On Tuesday, Sept. 3, join the Lake-to-Prairie Chapter of Wild Ones at Fremont Public Library, 1170 N. Midlothian Road in Mundelein, to hear "Why Hawk Migrations Matter" at 7 p.m.

A hawk in flight is a spectacular sight. Hawks and their raptor cousins add beauty and a sense of connection to our environment. Every year raptors fly north in spring, and south in autumn. Volunteers spend thousands of hours counting the numbers of hawks and other raptors. The collected data gets tabulated and leads to production of flyway maps.

Why are the hawk migration counts important to us? The migrations provide a vital measure (think blood pressure) of the ecosystems where they winter and summer. Interpreting the migration data provides insight into rates and directions of ecosystem changes. Since the raptors sit atop the food chains, we can infer much about the underlying vegetation and fauna in the affected ecosystems.

Paul Sweet, from College of Lake County and Hawkwatch Program, will present an overview of the collecting and processing migration data. Paul will presentation will include:

• hawk characteristics,

• raptors as indicator species,

• influencing factors,

 geographic trends,

 weather conditions,

• migrations pathways

 how to count,

 count results,

 trends and meanings, and

 flyway maps

Paul will talk about his experience counting hawks for more than a decade. Paul will show photos and maps of migration counts.

Paul Sweet has been teaching Environmental Biology at the College of Lake County, Grayslake, Illinois for the last thirteen years. His students recognize and appreciate his expertise and enthusiasm for birds. Paul has been counting migrating hawks and other raptors as part of the Hawkwatch program since 2000. Paul earned his bachelor's degree in science at the University of Montana and his master's degree in science at Colorado State University.