Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hawk Ridge Count Director - Karl Bardon's art exhibition ends 9/8!

On behalf of the Hawk Ridge Board of Directors, I would like to welcome back our staff, volunteers, and visitors to another season of migration at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory! We have several new staff members this fall and several who are returning. Hawk Ridge Count Director, Karl Bardon, has returned for his 8th season with Hawk Ridge.

Most of you know Karl as the guy who counts all the birds at Hawk Ridge during the fall season -- songbirds in the morning, hawks during the day, and right now, migrating nighthawks in the evening. In fact, Karl has tallied many Minnesota state records for bird counts, ranging from Golden Eagle to American Goldfinch and innumerable species in between. Among his other awards, Karl was honored by the Minnesota Ornithological Union both in 2010 and in 2013 for special achievement in field ornithology.  However, what you may not know about Karl (an art graduate of the University of Minnesota), is that he currently has an exhibition that is ongoing at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth through September 8, featuring his paintings and his photography. His subjects include warblers, waterfowl, raptors, and other birds. The show is a visual feast, including my favorites "Ovenbird Flight Song", and "Herring Gull at Knife Island". The photography exhibit features amazing warbler images from Park Point, and raptor photographs from throughout northern Minnesota. If you haven't seen the show, I encourage you to take advantage of the next ten days to see these uniquely expressive paintings and beautiful photographs.

A Celebration Of Birds

~by Karen Stubenvoll, Chair, Hawk Ridge Board of Directors

"Ovenbird Flight Song", acrylic on canvas, on display at Great Lakes Aquarium

Monday, August 25, 2014

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries August 15-25, 2014

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries
August 15-25, 2014

Another fall has begun at Hawk Ridge! This is my eighth season counting raptors and non-raptors for Hawk Ridge, and the excitement at starting another fall migration is as exciting as ever. We started counting on August 15th as usual, but the last week has had quite the stretch of rain and fog, even by Duluth standards, so not many hours have been put into counting, and not many birds have been seen. The raptor migration has been especially slow with the foggy weather, and as a result only about 108 hawks have been seen through the 25th. A normal August averages about 1000 birds, so we have lots of catching up to do! Luckily the fog has cleared and west winds are blowing, so hopefully this week the counts will improve.

In contrast, the songbird migration has been quite good, especially if you're a warbler. These colorful jewels are often more visible in foggy weather when they become "grounded, although we have also had good numbers on the sunny days as well. This fall we are noticing very high numbers of Cape May Warblers with day counts of 21 and 40, many juvenile Blackburnians, and definitely more Golden-wingeds than usual (often several are seen in a day, which is unusual). On Park Point, a Brewster's Warbler spent several days hanging out with a Golden-winged Warbler (Brewster's is a hybrid between Golden-winged and Blue-winged and is seldom seen in Duluth). Warblers have been about the only group of birds moving through in any numbers. We are still waiting for a big push of Cedar Waxwings, Cliff Swallows, and Common Nighthawks, all of which usually peak in late August. Although there was an evening flight of 3104 Common Nighthawks, we are hoping for a larger flight in the next day or two. Perhaps it is even possible to beat last year's amazing count of over 30,000!

I have posted a bunch of warbler photos I took in the last week along the shore, including a Cape May Warbler in flight that I took with Steve Kolbe's camera. Steve is our new assistant counter. He has counted previously at Holiday Beach, Kiptopeke, Derby Hill, and other locations, and arrived early just to see the nighthawk migration. He loves to count and photograph all the birds he sees, especially the ones in flight, and so he will be a great addition to our Hawk Ridge crew. When you look at the warbler photos and notice how amazing and colorful they are, keep in mind that some of these are probably juvenile birds, supposedly the dullest plumage. Do not believe that thing about "confusing fall warblers", they are just as beautiful in the fall as they are in the spring!

Karl Bardon
Count Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Cape May Warbler in flight
Blackburnian Warbler with bug
Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler
Magnolia Warbler

Monday, August 18, 2014

Come Volunteer at Hawk Ridge this fall!

Imagine spending time outside, watching hawks stream overhead, looking down to the beautiful fall colors, viewing the ever changing Lake Superior and talking to visitors from all over the world!

If this sounds like something you would enjoy, come and volunteer at Hawk Ridge. Every fall we are recruiting new volunteers to help us during the busy migration season. Our new-volunteer training dates are set. So spread the word and come along!


You don’t need to know how to identify raptors, we’ll teach you what you need to know.

All we ask is that you:
1. be friendly!!!
2. attend ONE of our training sessions
3. commit 24 hours of volunteer time between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31.

How easy is THAT??

We need people for a multitude of jobs including greeting visitors, selling merchandise, assisting naturalists with programs, pointing out birds, running errands, construction, trail maintenance/grounds work, office help and serving on planning committees.

Training Dates/Times
Session 1 (attend both evenings):
Tuesday, August 26th, 5:30-8:30pm at Bagley Nature Center
Wednesday, August 27, 6-8:00pm at Hawk Ridge Nature Center

Session 2
Saturday, September 6, 9am-3pm at Bagley Nature Center in the AM and Hawk Ridge Nature reserve in the PM

RSVP is not required, but will be appreciated.  Please contact Volunteer Coordinator
Katie Swanson, or 218-428-6209 for more information.