Monday, September 10, 2018

Hawk Ridge News - Fall Count and Banding Update, Festival, Gala, Program, and more!

Compressed HRBO Logo

Dear Friends of Hawk Ridge,

Northern Harrier 2018 by J RichardsonHappy Fall Bird Migration! The migration is ON at Hawk Ridge and you can find our staff at the nature reserve daily (9am-4pm) now through October 31st. Be sure to read the count & banding highlights below! You can view our LIVE Bird Migration Count HERE!  We invite you to join us at the Ridge and/or at one of our upcoming events! Read on to find out about our Hawk Weekend festival, programs, planning your visit, our Take Flight with Hawk Ridge Gala and then come celebrate the magnificent migration at Hawk Ridge with us!  

Fall Count Highlights

Hawk Ridge HawkwatchersAs of September 9th, 2,906 raptors of 12 species have been counted, including TURKEY VULTURE (41), OSPREY (78), BALD EAGLE (1187), NORTHERN HARRIER (89), SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (665), COOPER'S HAWK (7), NORTHERN GOSHAWK (7), BROAD-WINGED HAWK (542), RED-TAILED HAWK (67), AMERICAN KESTREL (149), MERLIN (38), PEREGRINE FALCON (26) and unknown raptors (10).  For our overall bird migration count, nearly 40,000 birds of 117 species have been counted August 15-September 9. You can follow along daily via our LIVE COUNT or read our daily Hawk Ridge Facebook page posts. Total counts can be found here on HawkCount.

August in review:-

The fall season started in earnest August 15th, and migration is well underway. The 18th and 19th provided the strongest push of neo-tropic migrants and hawks so far. 77 species have been recorded with 11 of them been raptors. 9,375 individual birds complete the August count.

Bald Eagle migrating past Hawk Ridge by J RichardsonOf the raptors, BALD EAGLE (489) and BROAD-WINGED HAWK (202) have by far showed up in respectable numbers. Nevertheless, the number of NORTHERN HARRIER (59) and RED-TAILED HAWK (32) is not bad for August with the vast majority been immature birds making the maiden voyage south.

The weather has been mostly warm and very dry allowing for only one rain day (24th) were no count was conducted. Wildfires in British Columbia and the surrounding area have created very hazy conditions on most day and multiple 'air quality warnings'.

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Hawk Ridge by J RichardsonPasserines migration on the 8th and 9th saw good numbers of warblers (823), flycatchers and aerialists such as CHIMNEY SWIFT (87) and CLIFF SWALLOW (146) with N-NW winds supplying favorable conditions to move south.. Notable, has been the early movement of RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH and PURPLE FINCH, it remains to be seen if they continue in bigger numbers as the season continues?

Common Nighthawk by J RichardsonFinally, as is expected in mid-late August COMMON NIGHTHAWK (28,000-\+) have so far not disappointed us with Steve Kolbe notching up big numbers on the 19th (13,730) and the 22nd (3,300)!

It looks to be another great season at HRBO already, and we're excited in anticipation for the arrival of some great staff that will be joining us starting September 1st. Their wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm is sure to make it a great time for you to come up to the Ridge this fall and enjoy some of the best migration viewing North American has to offer!

Eyes to the skies everybody!

John Richardson
Fall Count Director

Daily summary below can be found HERE or by going to (Site: Hawk Ridge)


Hawk Ridge Education Trainee - Kaitlyn Okrusch
Fall Raptor Banding Update

As of September 7th, 117 raptors of 10 different species have been banded, including NORTHERN HARRIER (4), SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (76), COOPER'S HAWK (2), NORTHERN GOSHAWK (3), BROAD-WINGED HAWK (2), RED-TAILED HAWK (9), AMERICAN KESTREL (4), MERLIN (12), PEREGRINE FALCON (3), BALD EAGLE (2).

Bob Owens (Hawk Ridge Board Member) and Abbie Valine (Banding Volunteer) with Bald Eagle by F Nicoletti 2018August Raptor Banding Summary-2018

Raptor banding at Hawk Ridge started on August 15th. We had several days of inclement weather which is rather unusual for August and also the number of raptors seen and banded was the lowest number ever during this period. Certainly highlights among the 23 captured included two each of Bald Eagles, Northern Goshawks and Peregrine Falcon. Looking forward to the next three months with the staff and volunteers. We are so privileged to share in the magic of migration.

2018 Research Trainees (L to R: Count - Hannah Toutonghi, Banding - Matthew Hanneman, Arthur Sanchez, Zane Den Ouden)Numbers of raptors:
Bald Eagle-2
Northern Harrier-2
Sharp-shinned Hawk-5
Cooper’s Hawk-1
Northern Goshawk-2
Broad-winged Hawk-1
Red-tailed Hawk-5
American Kestrel-1
Peregrine Falcon-2

-Frank Nicoletti, Banding Director

September 21-23, 2018
Broad-winged Hawk by J Richardson (2)REGISTER HERE TODAY!! All field trips are close to full! Don't miss out!
  • Natural History & Birding Train Trip Fri. 9/21
  • Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory Annual Member Meeting Sat. 9/22 at 2pm
  • Guided morning birding field trips to local hotspots Sat 9/22 & Sun. 9/23
  • Naturalist programs, hikes, & workshops at Hawk Ridge Fri. 9/21-Sun. 9/23
  • NEW! Vista Birding & Boat Dinner Cruise Sat. 9/22
  • Evening presentation by Dr. Francesca Cuthbert: "There and Back Again: Studying Piping Plover Migration the "Old Fashioned" Way" Sat. 9/22 7:30pm at UMD Boh 90
  • Post-Festival "Best of Hawk Ridge" Workshop Sun. 9/23-Mon 9/24
Kid's Activity Cart at Hawk RidgeCome and celebrate the fall bird migration with us! Hawk Weekend is the annual festival held by the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, MN.  It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase one of North America’s best places to experience the fall bird migration at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve! There will be a variety of field trips, hikes, programs, and activities for all ages!
Plan on staying longer and join us for our post-festival “Best of Hawk Ridge” 2-day workshop on Sun. 9/23 & Mon. 9/24!

For more information about the festival (program schedule, field trip details), please click HERE. We hope you can join us!

Common Nighthawks by K BardonFriday October 12, 2018
5-9 pm at the new Pier B Resort
REGISTER HERE TODAY! (Limited tickets available until Mon. 10/1)

 Please join us for an inspirational & important evening in celebration and support for Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Enjoy a delicious dinner, donated beer by Hoops Brewery and cash bar, live music by The Chris Hagedorn Connection Jazz Trio, live birds, nature & artwork fundraiser (Great auction items from Piragis, Wintergreen, Brandenburg Gallery, Patagonia, and more!). Listen to our passionate staff, board members, and volunteers share stories and highlights of the migration, bird conservation research and education programs, and learn more about the revival of the amazing West Skyline Spring Count!

Frank Nicoletti with Peregrine FalconThe Hawk Ridge Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented to Frank Nicoletti, Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory Banding Director, for his nearly 30 years of continued service and dedication to the organization, raptor research, and bird conservation.

GALA TICKETS: $50/person or $400 for full table of 8 (limited tickets available until 10/1) - purchase HERE!

Lodging - Room block at Pier B Resort available until 9/21 by calling 218-481-8888 with reference code 53149
Painting by Alexa Carson featured on Hawk Ridge t-shirts for sale fall 2018!

Featured Artist: Alexa Carson will also be at our gala event with her beautiful wildlife artwork on display. Two of her paintings are featured on our shirts at our Hawk Ridge merchandise trailer for sale in September & October. She paints wildlife native to the Midwest with acrylics on canvas and pages from antique books. Check out her work at and meet her at the gala!

Weekend Public Programs
Please join us Sat. & Sun. in Sept. & Oct. for these great programs!

Check out our calendar HERE for our program schedule! Daily Sat. & Sun. programs, special events, workshops, evening programs, and more!
Northern Saw-whet Owl by D Petersen

Saturday Evening Owl Programs:  9/29, 10/13, 10/20; 8pm at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve ($5/person - limited tickets for sale beginning 9/1 at Hawk Ridge merchandise trailer and online by clicking HERE)

Saturday Evening Speaker Series: 9/15, 9/22, 10/6, 10/27; programs are 7-8pm at UMD Bagley Outdoor Classroom (except 9/22 is 7:30 pm at UMD Boh 90) (FREE for members, non-member $5 suggested donation at door) More info below or click on link.

NEXT EVENING PROGRAM on Sat. 9/15 - The Fall Bird Migration Kick-off Event presented by Hawk Ridge Staff; 7-8pm at UMD Bagley Outdoor Classroom (FREE for members, non-member $5 suggested donation at door) 

Hawk Ridge Fall 2018 Staff & BoardJoin Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory staff for an introduction to the people, the place, and the passion revolving around the fall bird migration at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. You will learn about the bird research and education being conducted, highights, as well as upcoming events and how you can be involved. This will be also be a unique Q&A opportunity to ask the managemet staff of Hawk Ridge questions about birds and the work they do. We hope you can join us to find out everything you want to know about Hawk Ridge!


Sat. 9/22 - There and Back Again: Studying Piping Plover Migration the “Old Fashioned” Way presented by Dr. Francesca Cuthbert 7:30-8:30pm at UMD Bohannon Hall 90 (FREE for members, non-member $5 suggested donation at door)  Sat. 9/29 - Evening Owl Program 8pm at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve ($5/person - tickets for sale beginning 9/1 at Hawk Ridge merchandise trailer and online)
Sat. 10/6 - Birds Tell Us It’s Time to Act – Climate Endangered and Threatened Birds of MN presented by Monica Bryand 7-8pm at UMD Bagley Classroom (FREE for members, non-member $5 suggested donation at door) 
Sat. 10/13 - Evening Owl Program 8pm at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve ($5/person - tickets for sale beginning 9/1 at Hawk Ridge merchandise trailer and online)
Sat. 10/20 - Evening Owl Program 8pm at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve ($5/person - tickets for sale beginning 9/1 at Hawk Ridge merchandise trailer and online)Sat. 10/27 - Linking Local and Regional Weather Variables to Migration Phenology in North American Raptors presented by Ryan Steiner (FREE for members, non-member $5 suggested donation at door)  

Grandpa and grandkids at Hawk Ridge VISIT US AT HAWK RIDGE NATURE RESERVE


If you're already a member of Hawk Ridge - 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! This support is especially important this time of year, as we conduct our bird conservation research (47th fall season of bird count & banding!) and education programs. You can check out our exciting membership benefits (like 10% off merchandise) by clicking HERE or sign up when you visit this fall at Hawk Ridge! Thank you!


Clinton teaching kids about dragonflies by J Richardson 2018BOG TO RIDGE BIOBLITZ RESULTS
In early August, we completed our 3rd consecutive BioBlitz at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve! With less-than spectacular weather, a small group of 5 still explored and investigated Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve to see what could be found! A general list of common plants and birds were recorded, but the highlight was finding 20 new species of lichen for the site! Lichen diversity in northern Minnesota is incredible and the mixed forest and rocky habitats at Hawk Ridge hold a diversity of lichens. During the first BioBlitz at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, we were able to add 26 species to the list, so there are untapped areas to still be investigated for lichens at Hawk Ridge! This new batch of species also helped Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve biodiversity hit a new milestone: 600 species!! Mind you, much of this species list includes birds (over 1/3rd of the list), but every new mushroom, or butterfly, or insect can add to our understanding of this place! And the best part is... anyone can help us document species diversity at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve!

Dragonfly by J RichardsonCurrently, there is an iNaturalist project that we are hoping to have folks add submissions to, titled: Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve Biodiversity! ( Anyone can add images and species to this list, which helps us document the species diversity at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve during any season, not just the fall! Citizen Science is a great way to engage with an organization and help add to what we know about an area. iNaturalist is a great way to document species in an area and is easy to use! Follow along our progress in documenting species at Hawk Ridge by checking out iNaturalist or our website or attending programs at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve during the fall.

Grousing Twitchers - Birdathon Winners 2018HAWK RIDGE 32ND ANNUAL BIRDATHON RESULTS
188 bird species were counted by teams that participated in several different categories in this friendly competition throughout the 10-day period beginning on Saturday May 19th and ending Memorial Day May 28th. Team Grousing Twitchers (Dave Benson & John Ellis pictured) won the Big Day category for a 2nd year with 150 species counted, including 2 new additions with Rusty Blackbird & Eurasian Tree Sparrow! We truly thank those that participated and pledged. Team Captain, Steve Wilson with Team Whip-poor-wheels, not only biked 15 miles & hiked 9 miles, but also took the fundraising prize in getting pledges to support the bird research and education programs of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory! Thank you! Click HERE to read summary and for species list!

SPRING COUNT HIGHLIGHTSRed-tailed Hawk Spring Count 18 by J Richardson
The 2018 season was conducted from March 1 through May 29. A total of 32,603 raptors were counted of 17 species. This season count was the second highest total in the history of the West Skyline Hawk Count with 33,228 in 2004. Most species were recorded in higher then normal numbers with the exception of  Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel. It’s unclear at this point why the numbers were well below the 2000-2005 averages which is currently the most useful set of data we can use (Nicoletti, 2009). Certainly species which has shown steady increases in fall counts such as Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle and Peregrine we recorded in record numbers this spring. Surprisingly we had only one daily record, Merlin with 13 on 20 April.
 Visitors at Spring Count
Some of the highlights this spring were the following: Record Bald Eagle season total of 5,480 which comes close to Hawk Ridge’s best flight posted last year of 6,099. Likely continuing into June may have eclipsed that fall total. The third spring record of Mississippi Kite, this one a sub-adult seen on 26 May. The two other records are in 1997 and 2001. A grand total of 7 Swainson’s hawk, 7 dark morph Broad-winged Hawks among the almost nearly 18,000 that migrated pass, and an adult light morph Harlan’s were special for sure.

We also recorded non-raptor species and numbers observed or heard from the lookouts. A total of 172 species were recorded, including some unusual sightings: Greater White-fronted Geese, Mute Swan, Ruddy Duck, Red-throated Loon, Great Egret, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Parasitic Jaeger, Little Gull, Iceland Gull, Snowy Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Yellow-headed Blackbird.

John Richardson (left) and Frank Nicoletti (right) by J Long
The West Skyline Spring Count was made possible this year thanks to funding from a generous donor and is hoped to continue for years to come. Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is excited about gaining knowledge about the spring migration through Duluth and to continue the education of raptor and bird conservation in the western Great Lakes region.Thanks to the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union for grant funding for a Count Interpreter to provide public education. We appreciate all that visited, volunteered, and especially thank Frank Nicoletti, John Richardson, Steve Kolbe, and Margie Menzies for doing an amazing job at conducting the research and education this spring!

Help keep our bird feeders filled throughout the fall season! They not only provide food for our bird friends, but also a great opportunity to see birds up close and for photography too!

Need: Black Oil Sunflower Seed (any size bags would be appreciated!)

*If they can be delivered to one of our staff at either the hawkwatch platform or at the main overlook at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, that would be wonderful. If not, please call 218-428-6209 and we're happy to pick up too!

Two simple ways to raise money for Hawk Ridge are by using 1) GoodSearch for your internet search engine: and for your online shopping, and 2) Amazon Smile for your online shopping in support of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory to receive proceeds.

Bird Release at Hawk RidgeThere are several ways to find out news and highlights of the fall bird migration at Hawk Ridge: Volunteer with us! More info HERE!
Join us on Facebook to follow the daily action!
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Read our e-news (like you're currently doing)! ;)                    
THANK YOU again for your support and hope to see you at the Ridge!


Janelle Long
Executive Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

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