Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 344-9094, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission free
Site MFR04: Snickers Gap Hawk Watch
Elevation: 1062 ft. Snicker's Gap is at its best from mid-August through the end of October when thousands of migrating birds of prey stream past overhead. The area was established as a ‘hawk-watching' site in 1990 and counts have taken place every fall since. The most widespread species seen is the broad-winged hawk, which, depending on the weather, may occur in the 1000s or 10,000s. Other species frequenting the lookout include red-tailed, sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks, northern harrier, osprey, bald eagle, American kestrel, merlin and peregrine falcon. Each fall supports the opportunity to spy a few true rarities, especially later in the season. Golden eagle and northern goshawk have appeared annually, but rough-legged and Swainson's hawks are more particular about gracing birders with their presence. Numerous other species use the ridge top as a migration corridor, including migrant passerines such as warblers, vireos, thrushes and tanagers and, occasionally, migrant waterfowl. Monarch butterflies and dragonflies also migrate along the ridge, providing food for the migrating American kestrels and broad-winged hawks.
From Sky Meadows State Park, return to US 17 North and continue 1.3 miles to US 50. Turn left on US 50 and travel west for 1.1 mile to Rt. 601. Turn right onto Rt. 601, following it as it winds 10.8 miles to a commuter lot on your left just before SR 7.