Students Step into Nature for Real World Lessons

Science teacher Pacho Gutierrez ’77 led the students up the mountain to get a front row seat as hawks flew past its ridgetops in search of warmer climates. (Photo by John Fort ’19)

Students studying natural sciences visited the famous Hawk Mountain Sanctuary to watch the annual hawk migration. The sanctuary is renowned as the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and is a coveted location to study bird migration patterns.

Science teacher Pacho Gutierrez ’77 led the students up the mountain to get a front row seat as hawks flew past its ridgetops in search of warmer climates.

“We like to use this trip to talk about ecology and conservation,” said Pacho. “Hawk Mountain data has been important in seeing trends in raptor populations in Eastern North America. Their data played a role in putting several species on the Endangered Species List in the 1970s.”

Students like John Fort ’19 saw the real-world applications of watching bird migration.

“Every time we saw a bird we would tally it. After we got all the intervals down we could compare it to other years. We saw that some of the bird species migrated in greater numbers this year,” John said. “And some less. We looked at the migration numbers and tried to make educated guesses about what they meant.”

Pacho said the trip was a success. “We were hoping to see eagles, falcons, vultures, buteo, and Accipiter hawks. Other migrant species were monarch butterflies, songbirds, and geese. Aside from falcons, we saw representatives of those groups.”