Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina Hawk Migration Locations ● Includes Blue Ridge Parkway 

Did you know that thousands of bird watchers gather every spring and fall to watch hawk migration in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina?

Tens of thousands of hawks, eagles, falcons, and vultures soar over the Blue Ridge Parkway on their way south for the winter. 

Here are 21 stunningly scenic places where you can watch spring and fall raptor migrations. Plus everything you need to know about how to get there, when to go, and what types of birds you’ll see. 

Places to watch hawk migration in South Carolina 

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Migrating buzzard and falcon

Raptors migrate along South Carolina mountain ridges to take advantage of thermals that let them float hundreds of miles without flapping. 

Hawk migration at Caesars Head, South Carolina

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Watch broad-winged hawk migrations at Caesars Head State Park in South Carolina, right on the border with North Carolina. 
  • Dates: Sept 1- Dec 1
  • Peak dates: Sept 15-30
  • Address: Caesars Head State Park 8155 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635
  • Entrance fee: $3 per person
  • Birds you’ll see: broad-winged hawks, turkey vultures, possibly bald eagles, sharp-shinned hawks

You’ll get a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge escarpment, including North Carolina and Georgia. Of course, this is the perfect spot to watch for migratory hawks.

While at the park, you can also visit the 420 ft tall Raven Cliff Falls from the trail or view them from a suspended bridge. Or see five other waterfalls

More information: southcarolinaparks.com/caesars-head 

Congaree Bluffs hawk migration in South Carolina 

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Take a short walk to the Congaree Bluffs observation deck overlooking the Congaree River to see migrating kites and hawks throughout the fall.
  • Dates: Aug 1 – Dec 15
  • Peak dates: Sept 20-30
  • Address: Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve. Turkey Track Ln, St Matthews, SC 29135
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: Mississippi kites, hawks, vultures

Head to the observation deck on the steep bluff edge overlooking the Congaree River. In August, you’ll be treated to migrating Mississippi kites, hawks in October, and vultures through November. 

You may also see migrating swallows, Northern flickers, red headed woodpeckers, and monarch butterflies depending on when you visit. 

Sassafras Mountain Hawk Watch

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Visit the highest point in South Carolina for a stunning 360 degree view along the Eastern Continental Divide. And fantastic hawk watching opportunities. 
  • Dates: Sept 1 – Nov 30
  • Peak dates: Sept 15-30
  • Address: Sassafras Mountain Tower. Sassafras Mountain Rd, Sunset, SC 29685
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: broad-winged hawk, turkey vulture 

On the border between North and South Carolina, you’ll find Sassafras Mountain. Hike about 100 yards uphill from the parking lot to the observation deck. Bring a chair, hat, binoculars and water. 

Hawk migration in North Carolina

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Migrating osprey

Hawks, eagles, ospreys and vultures migrate along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway and its shoreline. That means there are many opportunities to view these majestic birds in flight. 

Fall Hawk Migration at Pilot Mountain, NC

Pilot Mountain is a fantastic place to watch broadwing hawks migrating in North Carolina Carolina in the fall!
Pilot Mountain is a fantastic place to watch broadwing hawks migrating in North Carolina Carolina in the fall!
  • Start: Sept 15 – Oct 15
  • Peak dates: Sept 20-30
  • Address: Pilot Mountain State Park, 1792 Pilot Knob Park Rd, Pinnacle, NC 27043. Park at the end of Pilot Park Knob Road, then hike 0.1 miles 
  • Entrance fee: none
  • Birds you’ll see: many broadwing hawks, possibly turkey vultures, sharp-shinned hawks, black vultures, ospreys, bald eagles, red shouldered hawks, Cooper’s hawks, northern harriers, red tailed hawks, rarely merlins, American kestrels, and Mississippi kites

Pilot Mountain is one of the best places in North Carolina to watch fall hawk migrations. You’ll likely see hundreds of raptors every day, especially large numbers of broadwing hawks, as they travel from the forests of Ontario, Canada to their winter homes in Central and South America. 

The broadwings may travel alone or in groups of 5-30 birds, called a kettle. About 2000-5000  fly past Pilot Mountain each fall. Amazingly, in 1993, over 11,000 migrated through in just one day

You may also see ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks, and Cooper’s hawks. And even less commonly, you may witness bald eagles, northern harriers, red tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, merlin, American kestrels, turkey vultures and black vultures 

Hawk watchers gather at the Little Pinnacle Overlook for the best views

Once you’re in Pilot Mountain State Park (Pilot Mountain State Park, 1792 Pilot Knob Park Rd, Pinnacle, NC 27043), head to the parking lot at the end of Pilot Knob Park Road.

Then hike 0.1 miles to the Little Pinnacle Overlook. Even if you don’t spot any migrating broadwing hawks, you’ll have a gorgeous view of the Appalachians and Pilot Mountain! 

Bird watchers were surprised to find hawks migrating here since they often stick to the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 20 miles to the north! 

More information: Forsyth Audobon, Hawk watching tips from Forsyth Audobon 

Blue Jay Point, Raleigh, NC

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Blue Jay Point is close to Raleigh. Although it’s not a common place for watching hawks migrate in North Carolina, you may see a few in the spring.

  • Start date: early May
  • End date: early June
  • Peak dates: mid May
  • Address: Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Road, Raleigh, NC 27614
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: broadwing hawk, black vulture, possibly osprey and bald eagles
  • More information: Blue Jay Point Website

Grandfather Mountain Hawk Migration in North Carolina   

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At the private park at Grandfather Mountain, you’ll see broadwing hawks flying from a mile high bridge!

  • Hawk season: Sept 1 – Nov 30
  • Peak hawk watching dates: Sept 20-30
  • Address: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646. After entering the park, head to Linville Peak
  • Entrance fee: $22
  • Birds you’ll see: primarily broadwing hawk, some turkey vulture, possibly osprey, bald eagle, red tailed hawk, sharp shinned hawk

Grandfather Mountain is worth a visit even if you don’t see a single hawk. This privately owned park features a nearly 360 degree view and a mile-high swinging bridge, and more activities at the nature center. 

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Mile-High Bridge at Grandfather Mountain

But you’ll likely see some broadwing hawks if you visit in the fall. And you can even see them from the parking lot if you’d like. Though Linville Peak and the Mile High Bridge are much more scenic and worth the walk

More information: Birdwatching at Grandfather Mountain 

Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina   

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Along with migrating hawks, you’ll get a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Hanging Rock State Park!

If you’d like to watch fall hawk migrations, Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina has gorgeous 360 degree views! 

  • Hawk migration dates: Sept 15- Oct 1
  • Peak dates: Sept 20-30
  • Address: 2847 Hanging Rock Park Road, Westfield, NC 27053. Hike up a steep 1.5 mile trail to Moore’s Knob Observation Tower for best views.
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: primarily broadwinged hawks, possibly peregrine falcons and sharp-shinned hawks

Although you’ll need to hike 1.5 miles along a steep trail from the parking lot, it’s worth the trip. From the top of Moore’s Knob, you’ll get a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Greensboro and Winston-Salem skylines, and Pilot Mountain. 

For more information: ncparks.gov/hanging-rock-state-park/home 

Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Outer Banks, NC   

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Visit the sand dunes in the Outer Banks, North Carolina to see sharp-shinned hawks migrating during September. 
  • Migration dates: Sept 1- Nov 30
  • Address: Jockey’s Ridge State Park, 300 W. Carolista Drive, Nags Head, NC 27959
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: Sharp-shinned hawks, possibly turkey vultures and American kestrels

Enjoy tall sand dunes on the Atlantic coast as you watch migratory sharp shinned hawks. The Outer Banks are a fantastic place for bird watching if you’re visiting North Carolina.

Hawk Migration in North Carolina

Of all the hawk watching locations on this list, Jockey’s Ridge has one of the most unique landscapes. It’s on a beach, surrounded by sand dunes. This means you may also see some interesting shorebirds during your visit. 

You could also turn the trip into a vacation in a gorgeous natural area. Even better, tourism in the Outer Banks slows down in the fall, so you may be able to find a great opportunity for a cheap hotel or rental house. But the lighthouses, beaches, deep sea fishing, mini golf, and many other tourist attractions are still open. 

While hawk watching in the OBX, I also recommend stopping by Nags Head Woods Preserve, just ten minutes down the road. You may see over 150 bird species in this unique marsh, pond, and wetland environment.

I had the opportunity to visit Jockey’s Ridge in August during a family trip.  It was a little early in the season to see sharpies, but I did see a number of ospreys, turkey vultures, a handful of red tails, plenty of pelicans, and quite a few mocking birds.

Hawk Migration in North Carolina

More information: Jockey’s Ridge State Park homepage

Mahogany Rock, North Carolina  

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This scenic spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers an amazing view of migrating hawks every fall.
  • Migration dates: Aug 15- Nov 30
  • Peak dates: Sept 15-30
  • Address: Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 235, Mahogany Rock Overlook
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: broad wing hawk, turkey vulture

While you’re driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway, stop at the Mahogany Rock Overlook at milepost 235. You’ll be treated to a scenic view of a rural valley and Stone Mountain. And if you’re visiting in the fall, you’ll see hawks, vultures, kites, eagles and ospreys. 

For more information, visit Hawk Count

Mount Pisgah, Asheville, NC 

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If you’re traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, North Carolina in the fall, stop at Mount Pisgah to watch the annual hawk migration. 
  • Migration dates: Sept 1 – Dec 1
  • Peak dates: Last weekend in September 
  • Address: Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 404.5, near Asheville NC
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: Primarily broadwing hawks, possibly turkey vultures and red wing hawks

Local birders meet at this scenic location along the Blue Ridge Parkway to watch the fall broadwing hawk migration

Pony Pen North Raptor Watch, Ocracoke, NC  

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Watch migrating hawks from the sand dunes of barrier island Ocracoke every fall.
  • Migration dates: Sept 10- Oct 30
  • Peak dates: Oct 1-15 
  • Address: Pony Pen, NC-12, Ocracoke, NC 27960
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: primarily sharp-shinned hawks, possibly turkey vultures, American kestrels, peregrine falcons

Some hawk species migrate along the barrier islands of North Carolina. Climb the sand dunes of Ocracoke to see sharp-shinned hawks, turkey vultures, American kestrels and peregrine falcons.

The US Park Service also manages wild ponies nearby!

Riverbend Park, Winston-Salem North Carolina

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At this expansive park along the Catawba River, watch broadwing hawks, ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks, and bald eagles migrate in the autumn. 
  • Migration dates: Aug 15- Oct 31
  • Peak dates: Sept 15-30
  • Address: Riverbend Park, 6700 N NC 16 Hwy Conover, NC 28613
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: Primarily broadwing hawks, turkey vultures, possibly ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles

At this 700 acre park situated at a bend in the Catawba River, you’ll see broad wing hawks migrating, as well as turkey vultures. You might also see ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks and bald eagles.

Ask the park office for directions to the hawk watch site, or climb the hill behind the park office for a superb view of the Catawba River.

For more information, visit the Riverbend Park website

Story/Lower Creek School, North Carolina

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This grassy field near a school house affords a view of the Brushy Mountains and migrating broad-wing hawks every fall.
  • Start date: Sept 3-Sept 30
  • Peak dates: Third week of September
  • Address: 540 Lower Creek Drive Lenoir, NC 28645
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: broad-wing hawks

Where to see hawk migration in Virginia

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Home to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, Virginia has many stunning hawk migration sites. 

College Creek, Williamsburg, Virginia

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College Creek has gorgeous spring river views for watching migrating vultures, kites, and many species of hawks.
  • Migration dates: Feb 10- May 31
  • Peak dates: Mar 1- Apr 30
  • Address: Small parking lot west of College Creek Beach, Colonial Pkwy, Williamsburg,  VA 23185
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: primarily turkey vultures, possibly Mississippi kites, up to 17 different species of raptors

The view point at College Creek looks out over the James River to the Hog Island Wildlife Management Area. You’ll also see resident ospreys and bald eagles fishing in the area. And possibly local herons, swallows, crows, and egrets.

Navigate to College Creek Beach, Colonial Pkwy, Williamsburg, VA 23185. You’ll see a large parking lot there. Continue west on Colonial Parkway and park at the smaller parking lot there for College Creek. 

Watch hawk migration in Virginia at Harvey’s Knob Overlook

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This important hawk watch site counts migrating raptors in Virginia along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the spring and fall.
  • Migration dates: April 1-30, Aug 15-Nov 30
  • Peak dates: April 20-30, third week of September
  • Address: Blue Ridge Parkway mile marker 95.4
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: primarily broad-winged hawks, also bald eagles, ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks, red-tailed hawks

This hawk watch site at the top of a ridge in Virginia offers views of Goose Creek Valley, the Peaks of Otter, Roanoke Valley, and the Allegheny Mountains.  Volunteers staff Harvey’s Knob Overlook every fall from Aug 15-Nov 30 during raptor migration seasons.

Visit the third week of September for the migration of thousands of broad-winged hawks. Then

Head to Milepost 95.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mendota Fire Tower, Virginia

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Join birders who’ve used Virginia’s Mendota Fire Tower to watch hawk migrations for over 50 years! 
  • Migration dates: Sept 14-Oct 1
  • Peak dates: Sept 15-30
  • Address: Mendota VA Fire Tower, Lebanon, VA 24266
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: Broad-winged hawks, possibly sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks

Virginia’s hawk counters have been observing migrating hawks coming past the abandoned Mendota Fire Tower every year since 1958! Perched atop Clint Mountain, you’ll have a view of Moccasin Valley, Pine Mountain, and the Holsten River.

To reach the site, park on Pinnacle Road. Then, you’ll need to hike uphill for about 25 minutes up a dirt road to reach the tower.

Rockfish Gap- easily accessible location for watching hawk migration in Virginia

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Easily accessible yet scenic Rockfish Gap requires no hiking! 
  • Migration dates: Aug 15- Nov 30
  • Peak dates: last 2 weeks of Sept
  • Address: Inn at Afton, 130 Afton Cir, Afton, VA 22920
  • Entrance fee: None
  • Birds you’ll see: primarily broad-winged hawks, possibly ospreys, bald eagles, sharp-shinned hawks, northern harriers, red tailed hawks, American kestrels

Park at the Inn at Afton at Rockfish Gap. You’ll be at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, and Shenendoah National Park. And you may see up to 10,000 hawks in a single day!

More information: Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch Site

Hawk migration along the Blue Ridge Parkway

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For the best views of hawk migration along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, stop at these places in the fall.
  • Rockfish Gap at milepost 1.5
  • Harvey’s Knob at milepost 95.3
  • Mahogany Rock at milepost 235.0
  • Grandfather Mountain is just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and you can see it from milepost 306.6
  • Craggy Pinnacle Overlook, milepost 364.1
  • Craggy Gardens Visitors Center, milepost 364.6
  • Mills River Valley Overlook, milepost 404.5
  • Mount Pisgah at milepost 407.6
  • Devils Courthouse, milepost 422.4
  • Chimney Rock State Park near Asheville 

Between early September and the end of November, you’re likely to see migrating hawks anywhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, particularly where ridges run from northeast to southwest. 

You’ll see the most birds between Sept 15 and Oct 1, between 10am and noon and 2pm-4pm. Some sites record seeing thousands of hawks in one day!

Hawk migrations tend to follow mountain ranges like the Blue Ridge so they can ride the thermals and updrafts. Some hawks travel as far as 100 miles without flapping their wings even once!

These birds are traveling from northern North America to Mexico, Central America and South America for the winter.

You’ll primarily see broad-wing hawks. However, you may also see bald eagles, American kestrels, turkey vultures,  black vultures, ospreys, peregrine falcons red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks.

Did you know people write poems and sayings about birds of prey after seeing these amazing migrations? Here’s a collection of red-tail hawk quotes.

FAQs about Hawk Migration in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and along the Blue Ridge Parkway

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What type of hawks live in North Carolina?

Eight different species of hawks live in North Carolina: sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, broad-winged hawks, red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, northern harriers, and northern goshawks.
Other diurnal birds of prey native to North Carolina include the bald eagle, osprey, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, swallow-tailed kite, Mississippi kite, snail kite, golden eagle, turkey vulture, and black vulture.
I recommend these books to help you identify hawks, especially from a distance!

What types of hawks live in South Carolina? 

Eight types of hawks live in South Carolina: sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, broad-winged hawks, red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, northern harriers, and northern goshawks.
Other day-flying raptors that live in South Carolina include the bald eagle, osprey, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, swallow-tailed kite, Mississippi kite, snail kite, golden eagle, turkey vulture, and black vulture.
These tips will teach you how to identify red tailed hawks and other raptors!

What types of hawks live in Virginia? 

Virginia is home to eight different types of hawks: sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, broad-winged hawks, red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, northern harriers, and northern goshawks.
Other raptors that are active during the day in Virginia include the bald eagle, osprey, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, swallow-tailed kite, Mississippi kite, snail kite, golden eagle, turkey vulture, and black vulture.

What time of year do hawks migrate?

Hawks migrate from March through May in the spring, and September through mid-November in the fall. 

What time of day do hawks migrate?

In general, hawks migrate between 9am and 3pm local time.
However, different species of hawks migrate during different times of the day. 

Where do hawks go when they migrate? 

Hawks go to Mexico, Central America, and South America when they migrate south for the winter. In the spring, they return north to the northern US and Canada.

What kinds of birds will I see?

Many different species migrate during spring and fall hawk migrations. They primarily include broad-winged hawks, but you may also see bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, ospreys, American kestrels, peregrine falcons, turkey vultures and black vultures.
More red tail hawks facts and migration information.

If you enjoy watching hawks migrate, what do you think about having one nest in your yard? Learn how to set up a bird of prey nest box in your yard!

More information on hawk migration in North Carolina

  • Map of sites for hawk migration in North Carolina at Hawk Count

More Hawk Migration Locations