Friday, April 12, 2024

Hawk Ridge News - March 2024



Dear Hawk Ridge Friends,

Bald Eagle by S McLaughlin 3-24 4

Happy Spring! It certainly seemed like spring arrived early and migrants have been on the move! The West Skyline Spring Count started March 1st and will continue through May 31st. You can read highlights from the first few weeks below. We are excited to share more bird education and research with you with several events coming up soon! Join us for our Spring Migration Celebration Weekend April 26th-28th! Find out more below on how to register and other upcoming events! 

P.S. If you missed our last e-newsletter, you can view that and older versions by clicking HERE

West Skyline Spring Count Update

Red-tailed Hawk by S McLaughlin 3-24 4

The first half of March has flown by, with warm, sunny days and migrating birds! Over 1,900 raptors (about 90% being Bald Eagles!) and over 3800 other birds of close to 50 species have been counted thus far (plus one butterfly)! Early March is typically a cold, snowy start to the spring count, but this year breaks that mold. Temps soared to 65F on the warmest day, and Lake Superior and the St. Louis river are ice free. Eagle numbers are fairly average thus far, and the biggest stories in the raptor world are early arrivals of a Turkey Vulture and Northern Harriers. Buteo numbers are slightly above average. 

Northern Shrike by S McLaughlin 3-24

In non-raptor news, geese and swans have been abundant, robins and blackbirds have made some small arrivals, a few Northern Shrike, and on March 6, the earliest ever Sandhill Crane was seen flying northward! A huge THANK YOU to our many supporters of the spring watch. From baked goods and spotting skills to pleasant conversation and site maintenance, the work of our volunteers and friends of Hawk Ridge is greatly appreciated. Fear not! Migration is truly just beginning and thousands of birds are still to come. The count continues every day at Enger Tower or Thompson Hill (NE winds). 

Wanting minute to minute updates on what’s going on overhead? Click HERE or via the live count button at You can also still find our daily raptor counts and summary via

HawkCount HEREThanks and hope to see you at the watch! 

Sean McLaughlin

Spring Counter


Spring Migration Celebration Weekend

Fri. April 26th - Sun. April 28th

Rough-legged Hawk Spring Count March 2021 F Nicoletti
Hawk Ridge has been monitoring the fall bird migration since the 1950’s, but did you know that the West Skyline Spring Count ranks as one of the top sites in the US for numbers and diversity of raptors during the spring migration? Late April is likely to provide a wide variety and ages of raptors traveling through on their way north, as well as plenty of other species of birds. Join us for an exciting weekend exploring the Spring 2024 bird migration! 

Eagles Spring Count 2021 F Nicoletti (2)
We will enjoy fun field days learning first hand at the Hawk Ridge West Skyline Spring Count in Duluth, MN (world record site for numbers of Bald Eagles counted in one day!), as well as other local hotspots (ex. Duluth Harbor and St. Louis River area). Hawk Ridge Education Director, Margie Menzies, and other staff (as well as the beautiful migrating birds!) will teach you about the exciting science of spring migration, raptor identification techniques, natural history of key species, current Hawk Ridge Research, and more! 

Register HERE today under our Events tab at Space is limited to 15 participants and registration closes once filled. Please contact Margie Menzies at or 218-428-8722 with questions. We hope to see you there! 

West Skyline Spring Count

March 1 - May 31, 2024

Bald Eagle Spring Count March 2021 F Nicoletti

2024 marks the 7th consecutive, full spring season of bird migration monitoring research at the West Skyline Spring Count in Duluth, MN! This is one of the premier spring bird migration sites in North America with record numbers of Bald and Golden Eagles, as well as other raptor species. Approximately 24,000 raptors and thousands of other birds are counted at the West Skyline Spring Count. Over 100 different bird species were recorded in 2023! Spring migration highlights include an amazing diversity of 15-20 different raptor species, as outlined:


Peak for each species (high counts listed)

  • Eagles: around March 25 (Bald: 100-500/day; Golden: 10/day)
  • Rough-legged Hawks: April 10-20 (up to 75/day)
  • Red-tailed Hawks: April 10-20 (1,000-2,000/day)
  • Broad-winged Hawks: May 1-10 (3,000-4,000/day)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawks: April 10-20 (up to 450/day)
Hawk Ridge West Skyline Spring Count

Plan Your Visit! 

We invite you to visit the Spring Count! CLICK HERE to find out more info on visiting this spring! You can also view the count live HERE and follow our raptor count numbers via HawkCount HERE

Hawk Weekend Festival
Save the Dates! 

Sept. 20th-22nd, 2024

Visitors watching raptor release at Hawk Ridge fallCome and celebrate the amazing fall bird migration with us! Hawk Weekend is the annual festival held by Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, MN. Bird migration research and education programs have been shared with visitors throughout the world each fall at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve for over 50 years! Join us for a fun weekend with a variety of birding field trips, nature hikes, programs, and activities for all ages! Registration and more info coming in late Spring HERE!

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory and Holbrook Travel are off on another fascinating international birding adventure in the fall of 2024. Guatemala is a richly diverse cultural center and a lush and vibrant paradise for birders. Set in the heart of Central America, it sits within one of the Western Hemisphere’s prime migratory corridors. Join Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory’s Margie Menzies and an expert local guide to explore a variety of low and high altitude habitats and see firsthand many of the rare and endemic species that inhabit this biodiverse area. Learn about local conservation efforts, including the Panajachel-based Asociación Vivamos Mejor, which seeks to train nearby residents to become birding and nature guides.

Emerald Toucanet Guatemala

Highlights include birding the lower and upper trails at Los Tarrales, a natural reserve with diverse forest types and a 340-species bird list that includes regional endemics like the Horned Guan, Highland Guan, Azure-rumped Tanager, and Blue-tailed Hummingbird. Explore Santiago Atitlán, a town on a bay of Lake Atitlán known for its many women’s cooperatives, traditional textile weaving, and rich Maya culture. Visit Corazón del Bosque Reserve for a chance to see Mountain Trogon, White-naped Brushfinch, and with luck, the uncommon Pink-headed Warbler. Navigate across Lake Atitlán to visit the archaeological site of San Andrés Semetabaj to look for species like the Inca Dove, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, Vaux’s Swift, and more. Meet representatives of Asociación Vivamos Mejor, a private nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life in communities surrounding Lake Atitlán.

Scarlet Macaw Guatemala

Each day provides a variety of opportunities to make the most of the birding/nature touring available, as well as options for individual exploration and leisure time. You will be traveling with other nature enthusiasts to all share an amazing spectrum of bird experiences and knowledge. All meals are included and dining is often arranged outdoors or in private group seating. Your guides will be Hawk Ridge Education Director, Margie Menzies, and an expert local guide. 

Don’t miss this incredible experience! Space on this trip is limited to 10, and final payment for the trip is due July 17, 2024. Click HERE for registration, pricing, itinerary, and more! Questions? Contact Debbie Sturdivant Jordan at 866-748-6146 or, or Margie Menzies Hope to see you in October!

Hawk Migration Association of North America 

50th Anniversary Conference in Duluth, MN 

SAVE THE DATE! November 7-10, 2024 

HMANA 50th Logo FINALHawk Ridge Bird Observatory is happy to announce that the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) is holding their 50th anniversary conference here in Duluth, MN in Nov. 2024! Hawk Ridge is helping host and details are coming together! The conference will be held at the Holiday Inn & Suites Duluth-Downtown with field trips to Hawk Ridge and other birding hotspots in the area. You can check out the conference link HERE

Thank You for Your Support! 

American Goshawk by K BardonHawk Ridge Bird Observatory thanks all of our supporters. We appreciate you! As a nonprofit organization, we are primarily funded by individual gifts to put our bird migration research and education programs in action. Below are some of the ways you can help us keep sharing the magic of the bird migration! 

Support Hawk Ridge by Shopping! 

Lisa and Tania at Hawk Ridge Merchandise TrailerThank you for the wonderful support by shopping at our gift shop last fall. If there was an item you were hoping for, please check out our online shopping options below with some of our merchandise or contact 

Big Frog (direct ship or pick up at Duluth store) 

Bonfire (direct ship) 

The Mug Experience (direct ship) 

Become A Member Today! 

Hawk Ridge bird releaseIf you're already a member of Hawk Ridge, we sincerely appreciate your support! THANK YOU! If you're not a member and have enjoyed your experience with Hawk Ridge, we invite you to 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! 

Simply Donate 

Rainbow at Hawk Ridge by K BardonYou can always simply donate online by clicking HERE or by mailing a check made out to Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, P.O. Box 3006, Duluth, MN 55803. 

Thank you again for your wonderful gift of support! Hope to connect with you again soon!  


Janelle Long
Executive Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 3006
Duluth, MN 55803-3006
Call: 218-428-6209
501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization

Federal Tax ID 76-0746366

Monday, January 8, 2024

Hawk Ridge News - 2023 Highlights & Thank YOU for Your Support!

 Dear Friends of Hawk Ridge,

Rough-legged Hawk Soaring over Hawk Ridge 2

From all of us at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, we send our warmest wishes and sincere gratitude for you this Holiday Season. Thanks for helping us continue to soar, like the beautiful birds we see at Hawk Ridge! Your investment in our mission helps us continue our long-term monitoring of birds through our count and banding research, study and teach about birds, and foster those special connections built between the birds, the people, and the place at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. We invite you to read some of our 2023 highlights below and hope to see you in 2024! You can also read our past e-news HERE or visit  




Golden Eagle – new fall season record high total at Hawk Ridge in 2023! Photo by J Cosentino

We continue to invest in long-term monitoring and study of the astounding bird migration each fall and spring. Both our fall count and banding research has been in operation for over 50 years! The passionate and dedicated count staff tallied over 63,700 raptors (hawks, falcons, eagles) of 18 different species, as well as 255,000+ other migrating birds of 175+ species collectively during our spring and fall migration. Highlights included Red-shouldered Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Mississippi Kite (fall) Short-eared Owls (fall), and new record season counts for Peregrine Falcons (spring), Golden Eagles (fall) & Blue Jays (fall)! Above 10-yr average numbers were counted both this spring and fall for Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Osprey, American Kestrel, Merlin, & Peregrine Falcon. Thank you to our amazing counters! 


121 Long-eared Owls banded in 2023! Photo by P Mundale

We continue to invest in bird banding research to further bird conservation efforts. Over 2700 raptors (including 1169 owls) were banded by the excellent fall raptor banding crew in fall 2023! A few highlights included banding a Swainson’s Hawk & Bald Eagle! Good numbers of falcons (American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine) and Long-eared Owls (121!) were banded this fall. Hawk Ridge continues to run the largest raptor banding station in the country. Dedicated volunteers continued passerine banding at Hawk Ridge with the summer MAPS research project and fall banding. Over 2200 passerines were banded this fall! Highlights included Connecticut Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler and record numbers of Gray Catbirds, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, & Swainson’s Thrushes. Thank you to our fantastic banding crew!

Banding Apprentices, Liv & Doris with banded Northern Harriers


We continue to invest in training and research opportunities for the future of bird conservation. Three trainees, two bird banding apprentices, and one intern received exceptional professional field experience within our count, banding, and education programs. We collaborated with college students on graduate research projects and other outdoor education classes from University of MN Duluth, College of St. Scholastica, etc. Thank you to all the trainees, apprentices, and students!



Naturalist, Sarah, releasing dark morph Red-tailed Hawk

We continue to invest in providing education opportunities for all ages and abilities. The Hawk Ridge Education team taught over 290 programs in 2023, reaching nearly 5700 participants of all ages! This includes school/private groups, public programs, virtual programs, and outreach events. Additionally, thousands of visitors at Hawk Ridge shared in the magic of migration with us and learned through our live bird education demos (150+ reaching 4400 people), migration interpretation, and kid’s cart activities. International birding trips continued with two to Costa Rica led by Margie Menzies and stay tuned for 2024 trips!

Thank you to our superstar education team! 


Hawk Ridge volunteers teaching about bird migration count

We continue to engage people in our community with much appreciated time and talent – over 1200 hours were recorded in fall 2023 at Hawk Ridge. Volunteers help in many ways from invasive species control, site maintenance, office duties, board members, committee members, assisting staff at Hawk Ridge with fall research  and education, and more! Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers! 


Dr. Goodrich Hawkwatching Hawk Ridge Hawk Weekend Festival

We continue to invest in connecting visitors to the amazing migration! Visitors and supporters enjoyed our annual Hawk Weekend festival in September. Over 125 attendees attended our kick-off & member appreciation celebration at the Great Lakes Aquarium, enjoyed field trips/workshops, and the fantastic fall bird migration at Hawk Ridge. Dr. Laurie Goodrich gave a wonderful presentation on Broad-winged Hawk research and was presented with the Hawk Ridge Lifetime Achievement award for her accomplishments in raptor conservation and research. Dr. Ken Gilbertson was presented with a 10-year Board of Directors service appreciation award. It was a wonderful weekend and we hope you can join us Sept. 20-22, 2024! Thank you to all our visitors, festival participants, speakers, field trip leaders, and those that helped! 


Counter, Sean, at Hawk Ridge sunrise morning flight. Photo by S DePew

We continue to invest in our beautiful site - Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. Volunteers helped lead important site stewardship management projects at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, including site/trail maintenance and invasive species control. We are working with the City of Duluth on funding for The Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve Facilities Plan. This project includes educational and safety improvements, such as a new accessible trail, permanent restroom, additional education program spaces, observation deck, and more! Thank you to all that help take care of Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve!

Blue Jay Sept 23 by J Cosentino
Thank you for sharing in our 2023 highlights and most importantly for your support! If you'd like to consider a year-end, tax-deductible gift today, we'd greatly appreciate it! It truly makes an impact to not only ensure we can continue our fall migration count, bird banding, and environmental education programs, but also help Hawk Ridge reach it's full potential. You can donate online by clicking HERE or by mailing to Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, P.O. Box 3006, Duluth, MN 55803.
Happy Holidays and wishing you all the best in 2024! THANK YOU!


Janelle Long

Executive Director

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Friday, December 22, 2023

Hawk Ridge News - December 2023

 Dear Friends of Hawk Ridge,

Hawk Ridge Team 2023

Thank you so much for your support in 2023! We are grateful for the opportunity to continue building connections between people and birds with new and return visitors, bird conservation efforts with our spring/fall bird migration counts & bird banding research, and sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm for birds through our education programs. We appreciate our amazing staff, volunteers, beautiful birds, and YOU for helping make this all possible! We invite you to read the latest e-news below, which includes summaries from our fall season and other highlights (note: past e-news can be found HERE). We wish you a wonderful holiday season and hope to connect with you in 2024!   

Research & Education Summaries

November 2023 Bird Migration Count Report

HRBO_13NOV2023_Rough-legged Hawk dark morph by J Cosentino

The Fall 2023 migration count at Hawk Ridge continued through November with a total of 176.5 count hours over 30 consecutive days by the end of the month. A total of 2,410 raptors across 12 different species were documented from the platform during the month. The most abundant raptor species counted were: BALD EAGLE (1341), RED-TAILED HAWK (725), GOLDEN EAGLE (178), ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (176), and SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (28). 

HRBO_2NOV2023_Golden Eagle by J Cosentino

Of these top five November species, the following had above-average November count totals: BALD EAGLE, GOLDEN EAGLE, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. The following species had below-average November count totals: RED-TAILED HAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. This month recorded a new HRBO November high count for GOLDEN EAGLE (Previous November high count: November 2012 with 150). The month of November also documented the latest HRBO fall count records for the following species: BROAD-WINGED HAWK (11/18), RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (11/23), and TURKEY VULTURE (11/30). 

Migrating Pine Siskins by K Bardon

The non-raptor flight along the Ridge continued through November, with 32 non-raptor migrant bird species documented. The most abundant non-raptor species documented throughout the month were: PINE SISKIN (2832), COMMON REDPOLL (2467), AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (1337), RED CROSSBILL (667), CANADA GOOSE (480), BOHEMIAN WAXWING (434), UNIDENTIFIED FINCH SPECIES (305), AMERICAN ROBIN (303), SNOW BUNTING (122), and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL (118). Non-raptor highlights included a late migrant ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER on 11/1, late group of AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS (16) moving down the shore on 11/9, single late AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN the following day (11/10), and a large push of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS (241) on 11/20. The 2023 HRBO fall migration count concluded on 11/30. 

Peregrine Falcon by F Nicoletti

This fall count logged 963 count hours, which represents the highest number of hours ever logged (Previous high being 2011 with 961). Some notable count highlights from this fall include: - New season high record for GOLDEN EAGLE (265) - New season high record for BLUE JAYS (78,631) - New day count high record for RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (10 on September 2) - New day count high record for SANDHILL CRANE (1,132 on October 7) - New HRBO October month high total for BROAD-WINGED HAWK (3,505) - New October month high total for TURKEY VULTURE (1,710) - Tying the second highest day count high record for PEREGRINE FALCON (25 on October 3) - Highest AMERICAN KESTREL season total (1,811) since 2005 - Latest fall record of BROAD-WINGED HAWK (November 18) - Latest fall record of TURKEY VULTURE (November 30)

Nov 27 2023 Snow Squall Hawk Ridge by J Cosentino

The HRBO count staff would like to extend a genuine thank you to everyone who came to visit the Ridge to visit, volunteer, or simply enjoy the spectacle of bird migration from the main overlook over the past fall season. The 2024 fall migration count will begin on 8/15/24. In the meantime, the HRBO spring migration count begins on March 1, 2024 from the West Skyline Parkway in Duluth: Be sure to come visit and enjoy the return of all the southbound migrant raptors that we counted this past fall as they return north! 

To view all species (raptor and non-raptor) totals for the Fall 2023 migration count at Hawk Ridge, visit: 

Jess Cosentino, Lead Counter

Fall 2023 Owl Banding Summary

Northern Saw-whet Owl by D Rodriguez

The previous two owl banding updates from Oct/Nov highlighted some of the best moments of season, but there were other great moments that made this season special. We’ll highlight some of those in this final update. We were able to band 1169 owls during the season. We banded 1,044 Saw-whet Owls, 121 Long-eared Owls, 3 Barred Owls and 1 Great Horned Owl. We were also able to process a total of 35 Saw-whet Owls that were already banded. One of these recaptured Saw-whet’s stole the show since it had a transmitter that was attached in our station back in 2020. The individual was a Hatch Year bird when it was originally banded so the bird is three years old. The transmitter was removed from the bird and Hawk Ridge researchers will use the data to analyze the movement of this individual. This is just an example of the great research opportunities that Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory conducts. 

Great Horned Owl 10-29-23 by D Rodriguez.

In spite of the high numbers, banding Saw-whet Owls never gets old. They’re an incredible species to study because of their incredible molt patterns, variation in facial appearance and their overall “adorable” looks. However, we also get to band other species as well. One of the biggest highlights of the season occurred on October 29. Our amazing lead raptor bander banded the biggest North American owl (by mass)—a Great Horned Owl. The owl weighted 1602 grams (56 ounces/ 3 pounds). For comparison, our heaviest Saw-whet Owl of the season weighted 115 grams (4 ounces/ 0.25 pounds). Big difference. Banding such big owl species makes any owl banding night very eventful—just ask any owl bander out there. 

Second Year molt of Northern Saw-whet Owl by K Garcia Lopez

This night was even more special since Hawk Ridge hosted a group of owl researchers that had just presented their work at the World Owl Conference that took place in Wisconsin earlier that week. This group consisted of two graduate students from Brazil and a PhD student from Turkey—all three are currently working on owl research. In spite of their respective owl expertise they were all amazed by the Great Horned Owl. This goes to show how remarkable and unique it is to see a Great Horned Owl being processed. The group was also able to see a couple of Saw-whet Owls as well and this experience brought the house down. They loved the smaller owl just as much as the Great Horned Owl. The researchers shared information about their current owl research with our owl team and our team provided insight about our work at Hawk Ridge. I’d like to take this time to thank them for spending a few hours with our team on a freezing night. We were all inspired by their work. 

Owl Bander Kevin with female Long-eared Owl by L Fortuna

The passion for owls is an international occurrence and it makes me very happy to know people are contributing to owl research and conservation globally. Now I’d like to switch gears and provide a few closing words about my experience as the lead owl bander at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory during this Fall season. Migration is incredible. I grew up reading and watching documentaries about the great migration in Africa. Then I learned about annual migration of marine mammals during my previous job with Elephant Seals in California. After spending my fall in Duluth this season I can say that bird migration in Duluth is on par with everything I listed. I feel very fortunate that I was able to have a connection with owl migration in Duluth—my season was very special. Working with owls sounds amazing on paper. It truly is an amazing experience but it is also incredibly tough. Working from sunset to sunrise adds several challenges—odd sleeping schedules and freezing temperatures come to mind. 

Banding Apprentice Doris aging Long-eared Owl by K Garcia Lopez

So why owls? I am asked this at least twice a week. I work with owls because I always dreamed of contributing to their conservation, protection and research. This experience was a dream come true not only because I got to work with beautiful owls. But also because it provided me with an opportunity to teach our apprentices, trainees, and volunteers the fundamental of owl banding. It is truly an honor to help the next generation of biologists advance their career. 

Fall 2023 raptor banders visit Sax-Zim Bog for end of season celebration

I would like to thank Abbie for helping me join the Hawk Ridge community. Your constant support, knowledge and work ethic are a huge inspiration to me. Thank you to my supervisor Frank Nicoletti for your support and trust with the owl banding project. Thank you to Margie Menzies and David Alexander for sharing all your bird banding knowledge and for your support all season. Special thank you our banding apprentices Doris and Olivia for being incredibly patient with me as your owl banding supervisor. Your work ethic, willingness to learn, passion for the owls and support were among the big reasons why we had a successful season. I am proud of your accomplishments. 

Female Long-eared Owl by Kevin Garcia Lopez

Thank you to our trainees Marie, Megan and Sarah. All three of you learned the fundamentals of owl banding very quick and I am very proud of your progress during the season. Thank you to all the amazing volunteers (Kara, Grace, Halle, Peter, Anna, Gracie and Dana) who helped our team throughout the season. Thank you to the naturalist staff Sara, Sarah, Jamie, Jake and Chris for providing excellent owl programs to the public. Big thank you to Janelle for your support and for making me feel at home. Thank you to all the owls we banded and processed—all of hard work is dedicated to contribute to their conservation efforts. 

Kevin García López, Lead Owl Bander

Fall 2023 Passerine Banding Summary

It was a busy fall passerine banding season with 50 banding days at the main station stretching from August 9 through October 22. During the season we banded 2,236 new birds, recaptured 166 birds, and caught a total of 64 different species of birds through the season. We have about three species that typically slug it out for the number one bird banded each year- this year the Swainson’s Thrushes occupy that spot at 351 individual birds beating out the usual fierce competitor, the American Redstarts at number two this year at 347. 

American Redstart by K Bardon

The overall top ten list for the season was: 1- Swainson’s Thrushes*- 351; 2- American Redstarts*- 347; 3-Nashville Warblers- 198; 4-Magnolia Warblers*- 133; 5-White-throated Sparrows- 128; 6- Tennessee Warblers- 125; 7- Ruby-crowned Kinglets*- 121; 8-Ovenbirds*-75; 9- Veerys-54; and 10- Red-eyed Vireos- 50. (Asterisked species name indicate season high banding records for 2023 for these species). It was an exceptional year on many counts. 50 banding sessions was above our 12 year average of about 43 banding days per season, and we were far above our average season total passerines banded of 1,427, by more than 800 birds! Diversity of species was good this year with 64 different species banded. 

Black-throated Blue Warbler Sept 23 by A Valine

The fall warbler migration extended longer than normal at least for the early migrators- we banded a Connecticut Warbler* on Sept. 21 with a high season total of 4, and an adult male Black-throated Blue Warbler* on Sept. 29, which also hit a season high of 3 banded. It was an exceptional year for Rose- breasted Grosbeaks* with 35 captured far above the highest total of 21 captured in each of 2022, and 2019. Gray Catbirds* too were far above previous high totals with 38 banded in 2023, compared to the previous high of 19 in 2012. 

Golden-winged Warbler Fall 2023

Other season record totals happened with Blue-headed Vireos* with 17 caught, 22 Gray-cheeked Thrushes*, 10 Golden-winged Warblers*, 10 Northern Parulas*, 14 Blackpoll Warblers*, and 41 Wilson’s Warblers*. So a nice long highly successful fall migration season for the passerines this year, especially the warblers with 9 species hitting season high records this year! Thanks so much for all of the hours put in by volunteers at the passerine banding station, and also staff volunteer hours as well- we couldn’t do it without you!!

David Alexander & Margie Menzies

Lead Passerine Banders

Fall 2023 Raptor Banding Summary

Banded Merlin Fall 2023

The fall 2023 season marks the 51st year (52nd fall season since 1972) of the raptor banding and count at Hawk Ridge. Hawk Ridge is one of the longest running banding operations in the world, and its continuing efforts to collect data is of utmost importance, especially with the changing climate and shifting of species and weather patterns. We along with other professional organizations and individuals continue to work toward understanding the migration and summer and wintering range of birds across North and Central America. 

Fall 2023 banding team and trainees

This season we had both Hawk Ridge and Moose Valley running full time, while Paine Farm ran when we had extra volunteers. Hawk Ridge was operated by primarily by Abbie Valine, while Moose Valley was operated by Kara Beer. A big thanks goes out to David Alexander who was there whenever needed. This season we had two banding apprentices, Liv Fortuna and Doris Rodriguez. We also had trainees rotating through each department which included: Megan Hanson, Marie Chappell and Sarah Needles. Kevin Garcia Lopez was this season’s owl bander (fall owl banding report included in prior article). 

Peregrine Falcon Fall 2023

This season total of 2701 raptors captured is below our season’s average of 3620 since 2011. We banded 15 species of raptors, 11 hawks and 4 owls. This total includes 34 previously banded birds. Among the 2701 total raptors, there were 1482 diurnal (hawks) and 1219 nocturnal raptors (owls). The Hawk Ridge station for hawk banding was in operation daily from August 15 to November 30. Moose Valley ran from August 29 to November 2, while Paine Farm ran from September 6 to October 27. We logged a total of 173 days, which is well above our average of 201 station days since 2011. A total of 1482 hawks were banded during the fall, with monthly total as follows: 12 in August, 889 in September, 559 in October, 20 in November.

Northern Saw-whet Owl Fall 2023

Some of the noteworthy Northern Saw-whet Owl foreign recoveries from previous years came from 6 Wisconsin banding sites which includes Linwood Station, Falls Creek, Steven’s Point, Amherst, Plover, Clam Lake and Babcock, 2 stations in southern half of Minnesota- Quarry Hill Nature Center and Marine on the St Croix. We also had other interesting recoveries which included 3 from Whitefish Point, Michigan, one from March 23, 2021 and two from their summer banding, 2020 and 2021. It’s always exciting when we get a nestling recovery. We captured an owl banded as a nestling from Stoney Mountain, Manitoba by Jim Duncan who a long time owl researcher. We also had some from North Shore banding sites; French River, Wolf Ridge, Tofte and Silver Islet, Thunder Bay Bird Observatory. Our resident Eastern Screech Owl for the past 5 year unfortunately did not make an appearance. We are still waiting on the remainder of the reports from the Bird Banding Lab. 

Frank Nicoletti (center) with Kim Eckert and friends at hawkwatch Fall 2023

I would also like to thank the numerous volunteers and HRBO staff who helped in many ways, including Jess Cosentino and Sean McLaughlin for alerting the station of approaching raptors. Others who helped in various ways were Grace Glick, Ralph Larsen, Margie Menzies, Sarah Wood, Sara Depew. Thanks to Janelle Long, our Executive Director, who helps with so many ways often not seen by many. Finally, I would especially like to thank my wife Kate for all she does and for her support.

Frank Nicoletti, Senior Researcher

2023 Education Summary

Visitors at Hawk Ridge Fall 2023

As they say- “Fast away the old year passes!” Time to give you all a brief summary of all things education this past year. Hawk Ridge education programs were provided throughout the year and literally happened all over the world through the wonders of international bird travel and virtual programming via Zoom! 

Girl Scout Troop 4162 Bronze Star Service project at Hawk RidgeStarting with things a little closer to home, here's a review of our spring-fall programs. During the spring, we provided interpretation of the spring migration at our West Skyline Spring Count sites, as well as education programs for schools and other groups. During the summer, we partnered with other nature centers & summer camps and provided bird banding programs. We also worked with a number of groups at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve on service projects, such as trail building and maintenance, and creating a new native garden to educate about native species for disturbed areas. 

Naturalis Sara DePew Live Bird Demo Red-tailed Hawk

During the fall, daily education and interpretation about the migration was delivered to the general public, as well as live bird education demos (approx. 150 demos of beautiful banded raptors!), kid's cart activities, and weekend public programs every Saturday and Sunday. We also offered the popular evening owl programs with 2 Saturday public programs and 10 small group owl programs. Outreach programs were provided both virtually and in person, such as our Pick a Bird Brain Series highlighting Hawk Ridge research, special events - such as the Everyone Can Bird accessible birding event series, and many interviews for the media - TV, news articles, & radio. Lots of magic to be discovered learning, watching and experiencing birds at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve in 2023! 

Green Macaw courtesy M Menzies

Away from home, adventuresome bird travelers had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica with Hawk Ridge twice this year. The first was a Birder’s Paradise trip exploring a wide variety of habitats predominately on the Pacific side of the country with many highlight species including the critically endangered Great Green Macaw in good numbers, an eye-popping assortment of flashy hummingbird species, an amazing number of endemic species, and who could forget the Resplendent Quetzal in full breeding plumage! The second Costa Rica trip focused on migration in the fall largely along the Caribbean Coastline. We cheered the successful migrators including passerines like Bay-breasted and Golden-winged Warblers, Swainson’s Thrushes, Red-eyed Vireos, and many others. We traveled under the biggest raptor migration count ever seen in Costa Rica at Kekoldi count station, where they counted more than 1 million twenty-eight thousand raptors on Oct. 27th, 2023. Almost 20 times more Broad-winged Hawks in one day than we saw all season this year at Hawk Ridge (more than 196,000)! 

Hawk Ridge Staff Cam and Chris at Kids Cart

In total between our formal and informal education programs, over 440 programs were delivered by the Hawk Ridge Education team reaching over 10,100 participants. This includes over 290 programs to nearly 5700 participants through school/private groups, public programs, virtual programs, and outreach events, as well as over 150 informal programs shared through our live bird education demos to nearly 4400 participants. We also connected with thousands of visitors through our migration interpretation, visitor services, and kid’s cart activities. 

Hawk Ridge fall team 2023

A big thank you to all the amazing education staff in 2023 that helped make our programming possible and for sharing your passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm of birds with others. We had a rockstar team in 2023 with many return staff, as well as a a few new: Sara DePew (Lead Naturalist), Julia Luger, Sarah Wood, Jake Behrens, Jamie Tigges, Sophie Richardson, Chris Schnurbusch, Caroline Urban, Gracie Sangmeister, Peter Mundale, Erik Bruhnke, Cam Citrowske (Intern), and trainees - Megan Hanson, Marie Chappell, and Sarah Needles. We also couldn't have connected with all the visitors without the superstar help of our Visitor Services staff - Lisa Oakland and Tania Womack, as well as our wonderful volunteers! 

Naturalist Jake with bird release at Hawk Ridge

You can find future programs and events on our website at: We always appreciate you spreading the word about Hawk Ridge with friends, family, and neighbors and better yet - bring them to visit to share this amazing natural event happening every spring and fall here in Duluth! So much to see, so much to learn! Lots of amazing adventures await those who visit in 2024. 

Margie Menzies, Education Director

Fall 2023 Volunteer Summary

Banding Volunteer David Alexander

Another season has come and gone too quickly. Every year I look forward to meeting our new volunteers and seeing our returning volunteers! We kick-off and end each fall season with a potluck dinner filled with great camaraderie and bird talk! Every year we have volunteers that go above and beyond and one of those is David Alexander who is helps with both passerine and raptor banding as well as maintaining the banding sites. Each year he consistently volunteers around 250 hours or more! 

Volunteer Marsha at Hawk Ridge

A few other volunteers that led the way this fall with much appreciated time given at the Hawk Ridge main overlook were Tania Womack, Gail Marsman, & Marsha Kurka. We have many that also go above and beyond with their time serving on committees, board, helping with special projects, site maintenance and more. Thank you to all of our volunteers in every way! 

Valerie Slocum, Volunteer Coordinator

Thank you for Giving to the Max in November! 

GTMD 2023_Square_full color

We truly appreciate all those that gave during the special Minnesota Give to the Max event November 1-16th. Over $12,000 was raised between online & mailed donations, which exceeded our fundraising goal! 

Fall Raffle at the Ridge 

Northern Harrier Oct 22We held our annual fall Raptors Raffle at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve this October with drawing on October 31st. Thank you to all that purchased tickets in support of our bird research and education programs at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory! Congratulations to the following raffle winners: 

1) Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Binoculars (winner: Ralph Larsen, Duluth, MN) 

2) Guided Winter Birding Daytrip for 2 with Frank Nicoletti (winner: Carissa Scanlan, St. Paul, MN) 

3) $100 Gift Certificate for Merchandise from the Hawk Ridge gift shop (winner: Jeanne Wright, Chippewa Falls, WI). 

International Birding Trip Update 

Ecuador - Birding the Choco-Andes Region 

February 25th - March 5th, 2024 (Trip is FULL - watch for our next trip in summer or fall 2024!) 

Please contact Hawk Ridge Education Director, Margie Menzies, with future birding trip ideas and to be first on the list to know! 

Hawk Migration Association of North America 

50th Anniversary Conference in Duluth, MN 

SAVE THE DATE! November 7-10, 2024 

HMANA 50th Logo FINAL Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is happy to announce that the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) is holding their 50th anniversary conference here in Duluth, MN next year in Nov. 2024! Hawk Ridge is helping host and will keep you posted on details. You can check out the conference link HERE

Thank You for Your Support! 

American Goshawk by K BardonHawk Ridge Bird Observatory thanks all of our supporters. We appreciate you! As a nonprofit organization, we are primarily funded by individual gifts to put our bird migration research and education programs in action. Below are some of the ways you can help us keep sharing the magic of the bird migration! 

Support Hawk Ridge by Shopping! 

Lisa and Tania at Hawk Ridge Merchandise TrailerThank you for the wonderful support by shopping at our fall season gift shop this Sept/Oct. If there was an item you were hoping for, please check out our online shopping options below with some of our merchandise or contact 

Big Frog (direct ship or pick up at Duluth store) 

Bonfire (direct ship) 

The Mug Experience (direct ship) 

Become A Member Today! 

Hawk Ridge bird releaseIf you're already a member of Hawk Ridge, we sincerely appreciate your support! THANK YOU! If you're not a member and have enjoyed your experience with Hawk Ridge, we invite you to 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! 

Simply Donate 

Rainbow at Hawk Ridge by K BardonYou can always simply donate online by clicking HERE or by mailing a check made out to Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, P.O. Box 3006, Duluth, MN 55803. 

Thank you again for your wonderful gift of support! 

Wishing you all the best this holiday season and into 2024! THANK YOU!


Janelle Long

Executive Director

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory