Best Viewing Sites You Can Visit For Hawk Watching In New Jersey
If you’re fond of the habits of our wild avian friends, fall is the perfect season to visit fascinating hawk watching spots in New Jersey.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’re introducing you to the top 17 sites with spectacular scenes of hawk migration in NJ.
Not only are we going to tell you where to go to get the best out of the migration season, but also how to go, when to go, and what birds you’ll see there. With that being said, let’s jump right into it!
Cape May– The Best Place to Watch Hawk Migration in New Jersey
Dates: Sept 1- Nov 30
Address: Light House Ave, Cape May Point, NJ 08212
The hawk watch platform is located at the end of the parking lot.
Birds you’ll see: Black vulture, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, broad-wing hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin, peregrine falcon
Cape May is regarded as one of the best birding destinations in the world, and for a good reason. The geography of the peninsula, along with the westerly winds, creates an unrivaled migration path in the eastern part of North America. Founded in 1975, the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) is a pioneer in recreational birding activities and bird conservation.
Sixteen species of diurnal raptors migrate through this place across the Delaware Bay to continue their migration each fall. A daily and annual raptor count is kept throughout the fall, with remarkable totals being reported each year. So, it’s definitely a perfect destination for birdwatchers. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy watching monarch butterflies and dragonflies heading south in the autumn.
Cape May is located on the southeasternmost point of New Jersey. Many birds are steered toward the coast during times of northwest and west winds and then funneled down the peninsula to Cape May.
But how exactly can you get there? It’s easy. Take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit Zero to get to the Cape May Hawkwatch. At the end of the Parkway, stay straight on Route 109. After crossing the canal bridge, this road becomes Lafayette Street.
Directions: After about two miles, turn right into Perry Street. To get to Lighthouse Avenue, continue straight on Sunset for about 1.7 miles, then turn left onto Lighthouse Avenue and go about 0.7 miles to the Lighthouse and State Park entrance on the left. The hawkwatch platform is located at the parking lot’s far end.
Learn more at the Cape May Point State Park website.
Chimney Rock Hawk Watch
Dates: Sept 1- Nov 15
Address: Chimney Rock, Bridgewater Township, NJ 08836
Birds you’ll see: Black vulture, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, Northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin, peregrine falcon
Chimney Rock is part of the Watchung Mountains, consisting of three nearly parallel ridges that extend from northern to central New Jersey. This is one of the reasons why Chimney Rock is such a fantastic hawk watching site.
When birds going south along The First and Second Watchung Ridges arrive in Martinsville, they have the option of turning north or heading out over the plains of central New Jersey. A lot of them choose to travel south, passing through Chimney Rock, which is a great chance for birdwatchers in the area to observe different hawk species.
Learn more at the Chimney Rock Hawk Watch website.
Dates: Aug 20- Dec 1
Address: Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Hardwick Township, NJ 07825
Birds you’ll see: Turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, golden eagle, Northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin, peregrine falcon
Raccoon Ridge is one of the most popular hawk watching sites in New Jersey, with a stunning vista and fascinating flights. It’s located in Worthington State Forest in Warren County, next to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area. Blairstown is the closest town to it.
This site was determined to be an ideal location for observing hawks. At Raccoon Ridge, full-time counts yield an average of 15,000 hawks per season!
The Delaware River flows along the north base of the ridge, and the Yards Creek Boy Scout Camp and Yards Creek Pump Storage Station are located on the south base. The mountain is formed of multiple ridges that funnel into one ridge. This is where the hawk watch is located when looking upridge to the NE.
Dates: Sep1- Dec 1
Address: Kittatinny Mountain South, Blairstown, NJ 07832
Birds you’ll see: osprey, bald eagle, Northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel.
Kittatinny Mountain is a long ridge that runs northeast-southwest across Sussex County in northeastern New Jersey. It is a continuation of Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain Ridge into the Kittatinny Ridge. It’s considered the first major ridge in the Appalachian Mountains. At a height of 1,803 feet, it’s is the highest point in the state, at High Point in Montague Township.
Many hawk varieties can be observed there, especially broad-winged hawks and sharp-shinned hawks.
Montclair Hawk Lookout
Fall Dates: Sep 1- Nov 30
Spring Dates: Mar 15- May 15
Address: 31 Edgecliff Rd, Montclair, NJ 07043
Birds you’ll see: black vulture, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon
The Montclair Hawk Lookout is located on the First Watchung Mountain ridge in Montclair, New Jersey, on a 500-foot basalt ledge. The Montclair Hawk Lookout, is located on a stone-filled platform, and is a New Jersey Audubon Society refuge. The combination of coastal and ridge flights makes this place particularly intriguing during migration.
Since its location is one of the country’s most heavily populated areas, the view from the platform is breathtaking. This place also gives fantastic opportunities to birdwatchers who want to observe the broad-winged hawk flights, which are seen some years in the fall.
Even if you don’t see a single hawk (highly unlikely!), you can enjoy views of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, and all the way northeast to the Palisades to the east and south. Peaks from the Ramapo Mountains, and the Second Watchung Mountain may be seen to the north and west.
The Essex County Park of Mills Reservation is just across from the Lookout facing north, and it’s from there that they conduct the Spring Hawk Count, as the view to the south is better.
NJAMP at Duke Farms
Dates: Sep 1- Nov 15
Address: 1112 Dukes Pkwy W, Hillsborough Township, NJ 08844
Birds you’ll see: broad-winged Hawk, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, Northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, Merlin
The Duke Farms Foundation (DFF), founded in 1998 to manage the estate, owns Duke Farms. There are several remarkable trees on the property, including 4 of New Jersey’s 10 oldest trees and 2 champion trees. The bald eagle species is among the 30 endangered species and 230 bird kinds now found at Duke Farms.
Learn more at the NJAMP at Duke Farms website.
NJAMP at Merrill Creek
Dates: Sep 1- Nov 10
Address: Merrill Creek Reservoir, Warren County, New Jersey
Birds you’ll see: osprey, bald eagle, Northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin.
Merrill Creek Reservoir is an artificial lake surrounded by protected woodland and fields in central Warren County. These areas are part of a larger open space area of 2,000 acres. The reservoir and surrounding parkland allow visitors to engage in spectacular outdoor activities.
Bald eagles, crows, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and other migrating birds are among the many species you’ll see around the lake.
Sandy Hook Migration Watch
Dates: Mar 7- May 15
Address: 26 Hudson Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732
Birds you’ll see: turkey vulture, osprey, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, Northern harrier, broad-winged hawk.
Sandy Hook is a hawk watching site on the northern NJ coast and is conducted by the New Jersey Audubon Society. The main site is near the park’s north end, beside the new observation tower. Other spectacular vantage points are available, like the boardwalk opposite the Visitor’s Center.
Owing to Sandy Hook’s history as a military installation, it’s an undeveloped barrier island that has a wide range of habitats, including beach and dunes, freshwater ponds, holly forest, mudflats, deciduous woods, coastal scrub, successional fields, and salt marshes.
It’s recommended to go there when the weather is moderate, and the wind is westerly.
Purple Chickadee Hawk Watch
Dates: Sep 13- Oct 28
Address: Ringwood, NJ 07456y
Birds you’ll see: Turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel
Stop by the Purple Chickadee Hawk Watch in Ringwood, New Jersey, to observe rare species like bald eagles.
Spring dates: Jan 1- Jan 1
Fall dates: Sep 1- Dec 1
Address: Mase Mountain, Jefferson, NJ 07885
Birds you’ll see: Broad-winged Hawk, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, Northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, golden eagle.
Picatinny Ridge Hawkwatch is situated atop a spur of Green Pond Mountain on US Army Picatinny Arsenal property in north-central New Jersey. The peak, at 300 meters, can be visited on holidays and weekends only.
Picatinny Peak is not accessible to the public. It’s not that easy for free-roaming hawkwatchers to get into Picatinny. In fact, due to security concerns, it’s extremely difficult to get permission to gain access to the installation. Although you can get access for short periods of time, this process will require both time and energy, taking around an hour of paperwork.
Dates: Sep 1- Nov 30
Address: 34 Merrill Creek Rd, Washington, NJ 07882
Birds you’ll see: Broad-winged Hawk, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, golden eagle, Merlin
Scott’s Mountain is a New Jersey mountain in Warren County. The mountain spans parts of Harmony, Lopatcong, Franklin, and Washington Townships, with the main summit in Harmony rising to 1,086 feet. The Scott’s Mountain Hawk Watch takes place every day from September 1 to November 30 at Merrill Creek Reservoir’s Tower Parking Lot in Warren County. From mid-September through the end of October, Scott’s is a great spot to see huge broad-winged hawk flights.
Directions: To go there, Take I-78 west to Exit 3, the last exit in New Jersey. Turn right at the traffic light at Route 519 after 1.1 miles. Turn right onto Fox Farm Road at the little sign for Merrill Creek Reservoir after driving 2.2 miles north on 519 and crossing Route 57. After 2.6 miles, bear right at the fork after 1 mile to the right-hand entry to the parking area.
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State Line Hawkwatch
Dates: Sep 1- Nov 15
Address: The State Line Hawk Watch is located in the Palisades Interstate Park, Alpine, NJ 07620
Birds you’ll see: Black vulture, turkey vulture, broad-winged Hawk, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, merlin
The State Line Hawkwatch is primarily focused on public education, and everyone’s invited. You’ll be right across the Hudson River from Yonkers.
From Palisades Interstate Parkway northbound, the site is 2 miles north of Exit 2. Take the well-marked median U-turn at Exit 3 from the Parkway southbound, then carefully merge onto the northbound Parkway since you’ll have to move to the right lane to exit immediately for the State Line exit.
Learn more about the location and how to get there at the State Line Hawkwatch website.
Dates: Sep 1- Dec 1
Address: Stokes State Forest, Branchville, New Jersey
Birds you’ll see: Broad-winged Hawk, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, merlin
Sunrise Mountain is a peak in Sussex County in the Kittatinny Mountains. The peak, which stands at 1,650 feet, overlooks Beemerville. It’s located in Stokes State Forest along the Appalachian Trail. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest places in the state for fall hawkwatching. The best view you can get is from a pavilion at the top of Sunrise Mountain.
Dates: Aug 26- Nov 30
Address: Trotter’s Crossing, Mt Laurel Township, NJ 08054
Birds you’ll see: broad-winged Hawk, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel.
A park in the township with ten soccer fields surrounded by fields and woods, Trotter’s Crossing also features a 2-mile walking trail. On a weekday, there are relatively few people around, allowing you to enjoy the quiet of nature, observe the hawks, and have the track all to yourself.
Washington Valley Hawkwatch
Dates: Sep 1- Nov 15
Address: 799 Miller Ln, Martinsville, NJ 08836
Birds you’ll see: black vulture, turkey vulture, broad-winged Hawk, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, bald eagle, Northern harrier, peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin.
Several hundred hawkwatchers from all across the northeastern United States visit the Washington Valley Park Hawk Watch Area in the migration season. So, come equipped with your camera and spotting scopes because you don’t want to miss that in Washington Valley Hawkwatch!
Dates: Sept 1- Nov 1
Address: Culvers Gap, Sandyston, NJ 07826
Birds you’ll see: Bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk
In the Stokes State Forest in northwest New Jersey, Culver’s Gap is a volunteer hawk watching site. The place is a rock outcropping on the gap’s SW side, a couple of hundred yards along the Appalachian Trail southbound, then right on a side trail to a road that leads right up past the lookout.
Hawks that descend down the ridge in NW winds are prone to be blown through the gap. Therefore, they do their best to stay on the ridge and pass close by. From the NE to the W, you’ll be rewarded with great raptor sightings
A short hike up the Appalachian Trail and a few side trails lead you to the site. The Acropolis, also known as Culver’s Gap, is accessible through the Appalachian Trail.
Spring dates: Feb 15- May 15
Fall dates: Aug 15- Nov 15
Address: 1 Lower Hibernia Rd, Hibernia, NJ 07842
Birds you’ll see: black vulture, turkey vulture, broad-winged Hawk, osprey, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, Northern harrier, American Kestrel
Wildcat Ridge offers its visitors unobstructed views of migrating hawks, so there’s no way you won’t enjoy it if you’re fond of observing migrating birds. Even when the hawks aren’t flying in the sky, the stunning view of the Highlands is definitely worth the trip. The hawkwatch offers a breathtaking view of the Highlands’ woodland and valleys. You can even see the New York City skyline from this ridge’s edge overlook on a clear day.
Learn more at the Wildcat Ridge website.
Sparta Migration Watch
Spring dates: Mar 15- May 1
Fall Dates: Aug 20- Nov 30
Address: Sparta, New Jersey, USA
Birds you’ll see: broad-winged hawk, sharp-shinned hawk.
The Sparta Migration Watch is located on the western side of a ridge in the Kittatinny Mountains’ foothills, surrounded by mixed forests. While no official hawk counters staff this site, you will still see hawks migrating through the area.
Related post: Best Places for Birdwatching in Delaware
FAQs about Hawk Migration In New Jersey
What types of hawks can I see in New Jersey?
There are eight different hawk species that New Jersey is known for: sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, Northern Harrier, and Northern Goshawk.
What is the most common hawk in New Jersey?
The red-tailed hawk is the most common hawk in New Jersey. Red-tailed hawks are commonly found in New Jersey and can be seen throughout the year, accounting for over 18% of hawk sightings. They’re also the easiest to notice because they circle slowly over broad fields in search of prey.
What is the largest hawk I can see in New Jersey?
The rough-legged hawk is the state’s largest hawk, with a weight of 25.2-49.4 oz, a length of 18.5-20.5 in, and a wingspan of 52.0-54.3 in. Rough-legged Hawks travel from the arctic to spend the winter in New Jersey. They are uncommon in the state, so don’t have your hopes high.
On the other hand, the sharp-shinned hawk is the state’s smallest, with a weight of 3.1-7.7 oz, a length of 9.4-13.4 in, and a wingspan of 16.9-22.1 in. The sharp-shinned hawk is a migratory bird that can be observed all year in New Jersey.
When does the Migration Season Begin in New Jersey?
Migration starts in late August in New Jersey and peaks in September and October. It then starts to trail in November and early December. There are some species that increase in numbers in November, like the northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, and golden eagle. However, each species has a pretty different migration time.
More Hawk Migration Locations
We share your passion for these glorious birds! Continue your quest on these other hawk migration sites!
– Visit our list of all hawk migration locations in alphabetical order by state
– Hawk migration sites in Massachusetts
– Where to watch hawk migration in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont
– Watch hawk migration in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan
– Where to watch hawk migration in Florida
– Where to watch hawk migration in Pennsylvania
– Texas locations for watching hawk migrations
– Watch hawk migration in Minnesota and Wisconsin
– Hawk watching sites in Nevada, California, and Arizona
– Where to watch hawk migration in Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland
– Hawk migration sites in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia
– Where to watch hawk migration in Ontario, Canada
– Where to watch hawks in Veracruz, Mexico