Dear Friends of Hawk Ridge,
The fall season is winding down on another great bird migration at Hawk Ridge. We wrapped up our public education programs at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve on October 31. October summaries for our bird migration count, banding research, education programs, and the Take Flight with Hawk Ridge Gala event are included in this newsletter.
Thank you to all of our friendly, knowledgeable staff and volunteers for sharing the magic of the migration at Hawk Ridge with thousands of wonderful visitors this fall. We also can’t thank our amazing members and donors enough for visiting and supporting our cause.
Give to the Max day is next week, which is a major annual giving day here in MN for many nonprofits, including Hawk Ridge. We would super appreciate your donation during this important giving campaign. We count on this day of support to ensure we can continue our mission of protecting birds of prey and other migratory birds in the Western Lake Superior Region through research, education, and stewardship.
Let’s make 2020 another great year for Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory together for the good of the birds, people, and place. Thank you!
P.S. Remember you can view our raptor count HERE for totals & daily summaries and watch the count in action LIVE HERE or via hawkridge.org now through November 30th!
OCTOBER MIGRATION SUMMARIES
Below you'll find the October summary reports and highlights from our bird migration count staff, bird banding research staff, and education staff. We had a great October and look forward to sharing more with you as our fall count and banding research continues through November!
October 2019 Fall Bird Migration Summary
October was another spectacular month of migration at Hawk Ridge! An impressive total of 15,084 raptors were counted for the month. Sharp-shinned Hawks showed up in good numbers for October, including a surprisingly high count of 1,354 on the 13th. They slowed down to single digits per day by the end of the month, but Sharpies totaled 6,006, making them October’s most common raptor at the Ridge.
Not far behind the Sharpies were Red-tailed Hawks, which started the month relatively slowly but quickly built in numbers. Red-tails peaked at a total of 902 on the 23rd on their way to an October total of 5,565. Bald Eagle was the other raptor totaling in the thousands for the month, with 2,080 seen, including a peak of 172 on the 17th. With a full month to go, Bald Eagles have already surpassed 5,000, and are just shy of their average over the last ten years of 5,069.
Broad-winged Hawks were the story of September, but October brought just 22 of them, including two relatively late individuals spotted on the 23rd. Also tapering off early in the month were Osprey, with just eight seen, the final bird on the 10th. This brought their total to 201 for the season, well below the 10-year average of 269. Peregrine Falcons were near daily throughout the first half of the month, reaching a season total of 155, considerably higher than the 10-year average of 121.
Right on schedule, some late-season specialties have picked up considerably throughout the latter part of the month, and promise to continue their upward swing into November. Northern Goshawks have begun to put on a fantastic show, including a thrilling total of 28 on the 23rd. Golden Eagles also arrived en masse, with an October 28th peak of 18 contributing to a solid total of 100 for the month. Rough-legged Hawks have increased more gradually, peaking at 14 on the 20th and reaching a total of 78 for the month.
As far as non-raptors, October saw some good movement of robins and blackbirds. On October 13, 3,277 Rusty Blackbirds and close to 800 Yellow-rumped Warblers were counted along with many other migrating passerines. A late Philadelphia Vireo was a nice surprise. October 14 was another amazing morning for robins and blackbirds with 4,237 American Robins, 3,165 Rusty Blackbirds, and 2,202 Common Grackles counted. The first Northern Shrike was also counted.
October 16, 17, 20, & 24 also had a good push of passerines, including 6,689 Rusty Blackbirds on the 16th and 12,530 American Robins on the 24th. All of the passerine daily checklists can also be found on ebird for Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L268365
The fall count continues through November 30, so be sure to continue following along online or if you'd like to brave the cold - we welcome you to stop by the hawkwatch and say hi!
-Gary Palmer and Hawk Ridge Count Team
October 2019 Fall Raptor Banding Summary
October numbers were down in comparison to previous Octobers. We were able to cover the Hawk Ridge station most days with less coverage at the two satellite stations. The flight never materialized and kept birds higher than normal. The one day that stands out is October 23 with 14 Northern Goshawks banded, including our first adults of the season.
October raptor numbers are below:
Northern Harrier- 10 (55)
Sharp-shinned Hawk- 270 (1651)
Cooper’s Hawk- 4 (24)
Northern Goshawk- 62 (69)
Broad-winged Hawk- 0 (11)
Red-tailed Hawk- 34 (52)
American Kestrel- 0 (24)
Merlin- 9 (68)
Peregrine Falcon- 3 (4)
Total- 392 (1958)(#) Denotes season total
-Frank Nicoletti and Raptor Banding Team
Owl Banding Summary
October was an exciting month for owl banding! The month started strong, with peak Northern Saw-whet Owl migration occurring in the first half. The 954 saw-whets caught in October put the season total over 1,000. And we still have part of November left!
Our biggest night of the season took place on October 3. We caught 168 saw-whets as well as one Long-eared Owl and one Eastern Screech Owl. Turns out, the screech owl was the same individual we caught in 2018, making it still the first and only Eastern Screech Owl to have been caught at the HRBO banding site.
Despite the lower Northern Saw-whet Owl numbers, the second half of the month was anything but a let down. On October 28, in addition to the 28 saw-whets and 12 long-eareds, we caught a Short-eared Owl. This was only the 17th Short-eared Owl caught at HRBO and the first in nearly a decade! On top of that, we caught the first Boreal Owl of the season the following night!
-Kate Maley, Hawk Ridge Owl Bander
October 2019 Fall Education Summary
So much bird education fun in so little time! October has come and gone, as have our days of daily outdoor programming (though one adventurous group scheduled a November visit)! Many thanks to our dedicated and talented education crew of naturalists Allie Quick, Andy Witchger, Jason Heinen, and Kaitlyn Okrusch, as well as Frances Whalen and Katy Dahl - our education trainees for 2019. Lisa Oakland and Noel Larson, our Visitor Services folks provided the glue to keep things moving smoothly for all of our many visitors. Alex Sundvall and Clinton Nienhaus kept visitors informed and enthralled as count interpreters.
October was a wet month with 4 full days of major weather cancellations, and a number of partial days, which required some creative rescheduling. Late October remained cloudy and wet, so it was almost a relief to have the wet switch to frozen forms. October weekends were full of great regularly scheduled weekend public programming. We also had 3 evening Owl Programs - the first of which was held indoors due to inclement weather, but the last 2 were held outdoors and well attended. MEA weekend was lovely this year with plenty of visitors and an opportunity to unveil our new Exploration Station- a drop by visitor education station filled with bird trivia, bird artifacts, and knowledgeable staff.
Approximately 450 educational programs were provided to over 10,000 visitors in fall 2019. These program included school programs and other private group programs, public programs, bird demonstrations, owl programs, Hawk Weekend festival, Kid’s Cart and Exploration Station.
Whew! That’s a lot of bird talk- but stay tuned there is always more to come over the coming winter and spring!
-Margie Menzies and the Education Team
If you're already a member of Hawk Ridge, we sincerely appreciate your support! THANK YOU! If you aren't, we hope you've enjoyed your experience with us and at Hawk Ridge and ask that you renew or join as a Hawk Ridge member today! Our memberships and donations help drive our bird conservation research and education programs. You can check out our exciting membership benefits and join or renew online HERE!
2018 ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS - Please click HERE to read and see how your support is helping us make a difference! Thank you!
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Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 3006
Duluth, MN 55803-3006