Where Counting Hawks Is an Obsession
Greg Hanisek’s decades-old ritual defines his life, even as the birds and those who track them slowly disappear.
Photos by Jonathon Henninger
By the time a sharp-shinned hawk feels an Eastern Seaboard cold front between its breast feathers, it needs a break. In Panama, where the bird is headed, the air is warm, and songbirds can be plucked from the trees like fidgety appetizers. But everything is scarcer here in New England – especially time. There won’t be many opportunities for pit stops on this trip, which could be close to 3,000 miles long. The hawk has known the sting of this North American wind since it first migration.
If it happens to be blown toward the Connecticut coast, the sharp-shinned hawk could take a break near Lighthouse Point Park, a stretch of sand where brisk water from the New Haven Harbor snags before flowing into the belly of the Long Island Sound. This is where raptors’ migratory highways intersect: a patch of dense woods opening to an amphitheater of cut grass and, farther out, a gentle curve of beach. Here, the hawk will dart between trees for food before bursting across …
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