Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Education - 2013 Season

Today was the last day of the 2013 overlook season.  How does it go by so fast?  We saw so many birds, met so many people, created so many memories.  Here are some of my favorites.

Jared, Greg, David, Darlene, Margie and Nancy...

Releasing a Broad-winged Hawk in memory of family member Fred, "The Hawk", Haakensen

This young visitor from Poland gets her code, JAMI, and a bird band.
About 175 children were able to pretend they were birds and get a band!

This poem, in the shape of a bird, was given to me by a visitor.

wears daylight and
wind-roughed feathers-fills meadow morning skies
like October streams meandering, watches grasshopper
shadows scattering, grasses rusting, yellow stalks shaking
flies afternoon hungry over mouse hurry, rabbits
running, descends to talon catch 
and shrew's cry until
vole full of blood red
flesh strands, he rests after
sundown, wearing darkness as a gift.

                                       David Clowers
                                           Sturgeon Bay, WI

The final count for private programs this season was 82.

Plus, there were public programs, songbird banding at the overlook, raptor releases, banding station tours and the countless other ways that we share our love of raptors and birds with you, our visitors and supporters.  

Time marches on...  I forgot to take the picture, but the leaves are gone now.

Bumper sticker spotted during Hawk Weekend.

Thank you for coming.  Thank you for your 
continued support.

"Keep Calm and Soar On".

We'll see you next year at the Ridge.

Gail Johnejack
Education Director

Weekly Banding Report: 10/22-28, 2013

There was no passerine banding this week except for education programs at the overlook. There will be a full report on all passerine banding in the next blog posting to date. The only exception was two birds banded that were caught in the raptor nets, both adult Northern Shrike. Always exciting to capture and band these songbirds which are very raptor like and bite and rip like no hawk or owl!!!!

Northern Shrike, image by Dave Alexander

The owl migration has been steady with fewer big nights of Saw-whets and larger owls starting to move. The best night was on the 26th which coincided with our last public owl program. The staff and volunteers did an amazing job with educating the nearly 60 folks. We were able to bring up both Saw-whets and Long-eared Owls. The night ended with 34 Saw-whets (1 retrap), 33 Long-eared and 1 Barred Owl which had its own band!!!!
The weekly totals of 200 owls are as follows: 134 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 63 Long-eared Owl and 3 Barred Owls.
-Annmarie Geniusz

Barred Owl, image by Rachel Harris

Hawk banding has been slower then expected especially after the flight of the 21st with flights reduced everyday since. The bulk of Red-tailed Hawks seem to done, which is somewhat surprising, and the goshawk numbers are lower than in past years. However, we have been enjoying capturing and banding Rough-legged Hawks which are always a treat to see and our first adult Goshawks.

The weekly totals of 70 are as follows: 9 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 22 Northern Goshawk, 24 Red-tailed Hawk, 14 Rough-legged Hawk and 1 Merlin.
-Frank Nicoletti, Chris Neri, Nova Mackently and David Alexander

Red-tailed Hawk, image by Chris Neri
Rough-legged Hawk, intermediate morph, image by Jerry Liguori

Adult female Goshawk, image by Rachel Harris
Frank Nicoletti
Banding Director

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries October 13-26th


The last two weeks of October are always my favorite time for raptor flights, when all the larger, attractive hawks migrate against a backdrop of peak fall color. The migration has been dominated recently by Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, and Northern Goshawks. Surprising numbers of Rough-legs have been the highlight the last week, including counts of 49 on October 22nd, 30 on October 23rd, and 31 on October 24th. This Rough-leg flight has been dominated by juveniles, suggesting good production of young in the arctic, which is refreshing after last year when juveniles were virtually absent. The flight of raptors on October  21st was one of the best I have seen at Hawk Ridge, including 135 Bald Eagles, 7 Northern Goshawks, 1135 Red-tails, 17 Rough-legs, and 20 Golden Eagles, especially since periodic snow squalls seemed to induce the birds to cut inland, often coming directly over the counting platform. Interestingly, despite continued northwest winds during the subsequent three days, the overall flight of raptors slowly decreased each day. Another pocket of birds seems to be arriving with a fresh cold front on October 26th, so hopefully the next week will be full of fun raptors.

Non-raptor migration has been slowly winding down the last few weeks, with about 16,000 counted in the last week. The season total is now at 264,838 migrating non-raptors, which is probably about average. Rusty Blackbirds and American Robins have been the most common migrants the last two weeks, including peaks of 5,246 Rusty Blackbirds on October 13th, and 4,551 American Robins on October 19th. It is still possible we will see another large push of robins, since I usually associate their peak with the departure of leaves from the trees, which has happened as late as October 31st. Steady numbers of American Crows have also been marching down the shore over the last few weeks, including a peak of 1607 on October 19th. The great variety of songbirds we see earlier in the season has been mostly replaced by more wintry types such as American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Snow Buntings.

Eastern Bluebirds have been remarkably common the last few weeks, with a state record count of 262 on October 18th. The bluebirds just seem to keep coming and coming: on October 23rd another 158 Eastern Bluebirds flew over, including a single flock of 60, which is the largest flock I have ever seen, and on October 26th another 174 Eastern Bluebirds flew over, including two Mountain Bluebirds, which briefly landed in a spruce tree. The season count is now over 1018 Eastern Bluebirds, which is by far the best season yet!

Karl Bardon
Count Director

Adult male Rough-legged Hawk over Hawk Ridge

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cold-weather Raptors

Today's flight of raptors was a relatively slow one. The dense air and south winds kept much of the migration at bay. Weather plays a dramatic role on raptor migration from day-to-day. With the tough migrating conditions earlier today, birds had to fly into a headwind, in addition to manually "propelling" themselves through the damp air.  By 3:00pm today, the hawk counters had tallied 14 raptors. The day started out on a special note, with the first raptor of the day being a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk!

Gusty winds kept even the most stable-footed hawkwatchers on their toes. The birds as a whole were low-flying, with several Bald Eagles were seen below the lookout on the lake-side of the overlook. Shown below is a distant adult Bald Eagle migrating by today!

The dense, northward-blowing winds also made it difficult for songbirds to cover great distances while heading south.  A sizable flock of beautiful Snow Buntings made their way southward in the mid-morning hours. Other highlights from the day's flight included at least two Northern Shrikes (adult, shown in the image below), and an uncommon-for-the-area Red-bellied Woodpecker. As the Red-bellied Woodpecker flew by, it hosted the red top of the head, as well as the black wings with bold white crescent that can be seen on each wing. They are a stunning woodpecker species, found more commonly south of Duluth away from the boreal forest.

Tomorrow's forecast is calling for cloudy skies and strong winds out of the northwest. It could be a good day, as well as could Sunday. Northwest winds are often associated with cold fronts moving through. Should a significant flight of birds push through, the main push of birds could start mid-day/early-afternoon tomorrow, and go throughout Sunday and into Monday. With today's slow migration, there aren't many raptors that will push through first thing tomorrow morning. Give them time, and they will come. Bring on the cold front!

See you at the ridge!

Good hawkwatching,

Erik Bruhnke
Count Interpreter

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hawk Ridge Volunteers

Today you will get to meet another couple of amazing volunteers. They have been a lot of help and are very supportive of Hawk Ridge in so many ways. Gene and Susan Bauer are volunteers who have been committed to Hawk Ridge since they started volunteering and have a growing passion to continue. Susan and Gene travel from Northfield, MN every time they volunteer and they usually stay in Duluth a few days. They come together, but they have different interests while volunteering at the main overlook. Susan has been working with kids at the kids cart and really likes to "band" the kids and make bird crafts with them. In fact, Sue helped us "band" and do crafts with kids on a day when we had 6 classes at once at the Ridge! Gene on the other hand, loves to connect with visitors and practice raptor identification with them. Gene also has a growing interest in leading banding station tours next year.

Sue at the kids cart

Gene greeting visitors

 They are always willing to help with whatever is needed and put in full days at the ridge when they come. They have been here for the past few days and stuck it out all day through the cold weather. They are also willing to help at the office, as well as, during the off season. During their last visit, Sue dedicated time to help process some of the many adopts that we have had this season and I know Jessica was very grateful of that.

Along with volunteering, Susan and Gene support Hawk Ridge by adopting birds every season. During their last visit, they adopted a Northern Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawk and a Fox Sparrow. They are very kind to donate in this way, as well as give their time to support Hawk Ridge.

Gene with an immature Northern Goshawk

Gene with an immature Rough-legged Hawk

Gene and Sue are very special people and we are very happy to have them volunteering with us at Hawk Ridge. They are always welcoming and warm to visitors, of all experience and age. I know that whomever comes to the ridge and gets a chance to talk with Sue and Gene will leave with a wonderful picture of Hawk Ridge. Thanks so much for all you do Sue and Gene!

Katie Swanson
Volunteer Coordinator

Hawk Ridge Fall Newsletter 2013

October is quickly winding down, but there's still time to visit Hawk Ridge to enjoy the migration! Naturalists and volunteers will be at the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve main overlook daily from 9am-4pm until October 31st! If you haven't read or received the Hawk Ridge Fall Newsletter 2013 yet, you can view it online now by clicking here (the featured raptor is the Red-tailed Hawk, which we've been seeing a lot of this last week!). You can also see all of our news on our website at:
Red-tailed Hawk, photo by Erik Bruhnke
Don't forget that this weekend we are holding our annual Fall Raffle Drawing on Sunday, October 27th at 1pm! Tickets will be sold until the raffle drawing ($5/ticket) at the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve main overlook. You do not have to be present to win! Thanks to the raffle donors for the following great prizes:

Atlas Optics 10x24 Intrepid Binoculars
Courtesy of Eagle Optics
Prize #1: Duluth Pack Scout Pack (Duluth Pack), Atlas Optics 10x42 Intrepid ED Binoculars (Eagle Optics), Binocular Strap & Hat (Eagle Optics), Crossly Raptors ID Guide (Princeton University Press), Lens Cleaning Kit (Swarovski Optik)

Prize #2: Guided Sax-Zim Bog Birding Tour for 3 (Naturally Avian - Erik Bruhnke)

Prize #3: Customized Hawk Ridge Fleece Jacket & Hat (Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory)

Duluth Pack Scout Pack
Courtesy of Duluth Pack Store
We also truly appreciate your support this fall and beyond. It's been great connecting with many returning and new visitors at Hawk Ridge this season.

Janelle Long
Executive Director

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Education - Owl Programs

Many people have experienced the beauty of Hawk Ridge and daytime migrating raptors. However, the bird activity doesn’t stop when the sun sets. Owl programs run at Main Overlook in the evening starting at the end of September through the month of October. Just like high flying Red-tailed Hawks and speedy falcons, the owls of the northland begin to move through the forest with the changing of the seasons.  Throughout the owl program, visitors have a chance to learn about the differences between daytime and nighttime raptors as well as owl identification and special adaptations. 

Full moon from owl program.  Photo by J. Chatterton

There are different species of owls that may be found in the woods around the main overlook. A majority of the owls banded during the season are the diminutive but feisty Northern Saw-Whet owls.  It’s hard to believe that this small, tuft-less bird is flying silently around us through the woods. However, after getting a close up look at their sharp talons and learning about their nocturnal adaptations, it is clear that saw-whets are hardy birds!

This season, we have been lucky enough to also see a Long-eared Owl and a Barred Owl up close during the evening program. Both of these species are banded on an annual basis, but it is a rare treat to see them during the owl program because they are typically active later in the night. As the days become shorter, the owls become active earlier in the evening, which allows us a better chance of seeing these elusive animals up close.

Nothern Saw-whet Owl.  Photo by A. Geniusz

Visitor with Northern Saw-whet Owl just before release.  Photo by N. Zappitello
Remember, autumn evenings can vary greatly in temperature and weather.  If you purchase a ticket for an owl program, check the forecast and dress for the conditions. It is important to wear layers, including good footwear and a hat and gloves. Some visitors even bring a blanket to wrap around their shoulders and a chair cushion to sit on! The program typically runs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The last owl program of the 2013 season is scheduled for Saturday October 26th
If you have ever wondered how owls nest, what they eat, or what makes them amazing predators, the owl program is the perfect way to experience another facet of Hawk Ridge and learn all about these mysterious nocturnal raptors!

Sarah Glesner
Owl Program Naturalist

Female Long-eared Owl.  Photo by A. Geniusz

Owl Bander, Annmarie Geniusz, displays the wing of a Barred Owl.  Photo by S. Bockhold

Raptor Expert Jerry Liguori Visits Hawk Ridge

Jerry Liguori in the aftermath of a snow squall at Hawk Ridge
Hundreds of Red-tailed Hawks streamed through periodic snow squalls at Hawk Ridge on Monday as a small group of die-hard hawk watchers peered through scopes and binoculars. Among this gathering of enthusiasts was raptor expert, author, and photographer Jerry Liguori. With a total of 1414 raptors counted this day, many of them flying low along the ridge, it was a perfect day to film these birds for a raptor identification video he has in the works. Northern Goshawks were his main focus, while he was here on his 4th visit to the Ridge, but he also shot some footage of that day's great flight of Red-tailed Hawks, which he mentioned were his favorite raptor.

Raptor edition of the Crossley
ID Guide published this year
Red-tailed Hawk photo compilation
from the Crossley ID Guide

The most recent Crossley ID Guide, a special raptor edition published earlier this year, was co-authored by Jerry Liguori along with Richard Crossley and Brian Sullivan. This book, like all the Crossley Guides, features photo compilations of birds in various positions shown in the habitats where they would normally be found.

His second book
published in 2011
Jerry Liguori's first book
published in 2005

Jerry's previous two books, Hawks From Every Angle and Hawks at a Distance, are incredibly helpful for those learning to recognize specific raptor species in flight. They show males and females of each species in juvenile and adult plumage and in many different wind and lighting conditions. Hawks at a Distance was published the year that I first volunteered at Hawk Ridge and I found myself pouring over it after work in the evening comparing his photos to what I had seen during the day. I consult both of these books frequently when helping visitors identify the birds flying over the ridge.

Red-tailed Hawk released at the Main Overlook
(photo by Erik Bruhnke)

Jerry with Red-tailed Hawk
(photo by Erik Bruhnke)

Check out Jerry's website at to view his amazing photos, purchase books and prints, or even ask him a raptor id question. You can also access his blog from the site to read his in-depth discussions of the finer points of raptor identification.
Jessica Chatterton
Hawk Ridge Operations Director

Weekly Banding Report: October 15-21, 2013

The passerine banding has pretty much ended, except for weekend banding education demonstrations at the main overlook. There will be a summary at the end of the month of the passerine totals. Owl migration continues, but numbers seem lower. This could be related to weather and full moon, which seem to have an effect on capture rate at least at this site.  Migration of large hawks are now picking up and we have had some nice flights.

A total of 83 owls were banded for the week which include: 68 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 13 Long-eared Owl and 2 Barred Owl. The best night occurred on the 19th with an owl program, when 33 owls were banded of three species! We were able to show the nearly 60 participants many Northern Saw-whet Owls, a Long-eared and Barred Owl.
~Annmarie Geniusz, Owl Bander

Highlight this week was the flight on the 21st with strong northwest winds and 31 hawks were banded including 1 Bald Eagle, 4 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 3 Northern Goshawk, 21 Red-tailed Hawks and 2 Rough-legged Hawk. Total hawks banded for the week is 70, which includes: 1 Bald Eagle, 15 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 16 Northern Goshawk, 34 Red-tailed Hawk, 2 Rough-legged Hawk and 1 American Kestrel.
~Frank Nicoletti, Chris Neri, Nova Mackentley and David Alexander, Banders

I would like to thank the staff and banding assistants this past week.

Frank Nicoletti
Banding Director
Kate Nicoletti holding banded Bald Eagle, image by Miranda Durbin

Hatch-year Bald Eagle, image by Miranda Durbin

Dark (left) and light (right) morph Rough-legged Hawk, image by Miranda Durbin
Owl Bander, Annmarie, measuring Barred Owl, image by Kate Nicoletti

Long-eared Owl, image by Annmarie Geniusz

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cool-Weather Raptors

Hawk Ridge was filled with a steady flight of birds moving through today, which tapered down towards the mid-afternoon hours. A refreshing & light west wind kept some of the raptors overhead, however most of them were seen kettling towards the lake-side of Hawk Ridge. Being just beyond the middle days of October, we're seeing steady numbers of Northern Goshawk flying through, with fewer Sharp-shinned Hawks each day. Many of the Sharp-shinned Hawks coming through now are adults. Shown below is the view (from the main overlook), looking up the North Shore; just after the brief icy rain had fallen.

Visitors throughout the main overlook were treated to the upcoming cold front, beginning to move through today. As Saturday comes around and Sunday approached in the near future, there is a good chance that we could see bursts of raptors moving past Hawk Ridge. Snow tends to have very little effect on raptor migration, whereas rain tends to be a limiting factor with the daily flights of birds. Rain and snow can "bunch-up" the groups of raptors, and push them through in concentrations if the winds are satisfactory for migration. There are few things more amazing, then seeing raptors migrating in snow! In addition to the many Red-tailed Hawks seen today, Songbirds were also coming through in fair numbers today. While pointing out raptors to visitors, I pointed out several Yellow-rumped Warblers and several Purple Finches migrating overhead. Shown below is an Eastern Bluebird migrating past Hawk Ridge, photographed today from the main overlook.

Here is a flock of Lapland Longspurs migrating past Hawk Ridge this afternoon. They bob and undulate through the open skies while migrating, and have two commonly-heard call notes. In flight, Lapland Longspurs can produce a soft, high-pitched "chew" call note. They can also produce little bursts of gurgly/chattery trills.They are a beautiful songbird species that breeds throughout the arctic tundra, and are only seen here (locally) during migration.

Bring on the cooler skies and possible chance of snow. Cold snaps can result in birds migrating through! We should be seeing Northern Goshawk, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and Rough-legged Hawks coming through soon.

Good hawkwatching. Be sure to bundle-up and bring your binoculars along if you come up to the main overlook! Birds should be flying, and it's going to be on the cooler side. See you there this weekend!

Erik Bruhnke
Hawk Ridge Count Interpreter

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory: Mission, Vision, and Values

This summer the Hawk Ridge Board of Directors met for the biannual strategic planning meeting. I enjoy this type of meeting, as it involves highlighting what's working well for the organization, invites new ways of thinking, and helps build a plan for the future. We were all in agreement that our mission is strong and does not require change. However, we did tweak our vision and added values and goals. Here are some of those foundational pieces of our organization:

MISSION: The mission of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is to protect birds of prey and other migratory birds in the Western Lake Superior region through research, education, and stewardship.

VISION: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory will be recognized as a leading and respected non-profit organization dedicated to the understanding and conservation of wild birds and the ecosystems that sustain them.

VALUES: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory values:
  • Birds - their beauty and their role in the natural world
  • Knowledge - from science-based research
  • Education - to inspire an appreciation of nature through birds
  • Stewardship - of natural resources that sustain bird populations
  • Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve - as a unique natural area for bird migration and other outdoor experiences.
We are looking forward to continuing our growth to further our mission. We value your input as our supporters and we welcome your feedback, questions, and ideas anytime. Please feel free to contact us at 218-428-6209 or at

Janelle Long
Executive Director
Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is managed by Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
with a trust agreement with the City of Duluth. Photo by Hawk Ridge Staff.

Education - Appreciation and Understanding

We are teaching, teaching, teaching these days.  Just in the past week we have taught about 300 people in private programs, from Cub Scouts to many 5th graders to adults.  The buses come and go, the kids learn to use binoculars and before you know it, they are calling out 'Sharpie!' as the birds whirl by. This makes for some pretty busy, tiring and satisfying days. Our goal is to help people understand and appreciate what Hawk Ridge is all about, and the role birds play in the ecosystem.

I like to end my school programs with a quick series of review questions, and then some more pointed, thought provoking questions...
"What do you know now that you didn't know 2 hours ago?"  They come up with all kinds of tidbits for that one.
Then the kicker - "If you see a raptor tomorrow, and you saw one yesterday, would it mean anything more to you?  Would you think differently about it?"  The overwhelming response is that 'Yes, it would."  Why?,  I ask.  'Because we learned about it.  Because now we know more about them."   I encourage them to pay attention, to look for birds of all types and to remember how important they are in the ecosystem.  I encourage them to visit with their families, and to keep learning about whatever interests them.  Then, no matter how tired I am, or how much I know I have to do yet that day, I walk away with a smile and a sense that life is good in this moment.  Because it is.

Education Director, Gail Johnejack, teaching with Sharp-shinned Hawk
Photo courtesy of Thorsburg Photography (Lisa Ellen Johnson)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Banding Station Summary for October 8-14

This has been a week of change at the banding stations. The passerine migration is winding down, the owl migration is really picking up, and the hawk migration is switching from Sharp-shinned Hawks to larger birds such as Northern Goshawks. Today is a rainy, cold, and a windy day, but the rest of the week promises westerly winds and the prospect of larger numbers of Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Goshawks and owls.

Passerine Banding
With no banding happening today due to weather, we have reached the end of the passerine banding season for Fall 2013. We will probably still catch a few birds in the raptor nets, but with the end of migration, another successful season is ending. With just an eager and committed crew of volunteers, we managed to band for 38 days from August 4-October 15. We banded 1409 birds of 65 species. We had to wait until October 14th to band our first Dark-eyed Junco, but we caught 46 of them that day. This week brought the first juncos, Tree Sparrows, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers for the season. Comparing 2013 to 2012, last year we banded just over 2100 birds of 67 species. Despite the huge number of Cedar Waxwings flying around the ridge, we didn't catch one in the nets. We did have a good year for Black-throated Blue Warblers with three individuals including two stunning males. We also caught our first Golden-winged Warblers for the project. Thanks again to all of our volunteers who helped this year. -- David Alexander

Owl Banding
Owl banding picked up this week with 291 new owls banded including 273 Northern Saw-whet Owls and 18 Long-eared Owls. We also captured 20 saw-whets which had been previously banded taking our recaptures for the year to 53 birds. Our big night for the week was October 13 when we banded 111 saw-whets and 16 Long-eared Owls. We are also finally catching a few saw-whets born this year with 9% of the owls to date being hatch-year. This compares to 55% hatch year birds last year. The production of young is clearly lower this year. -- Annmarie Geniusz

Hawk Banding
It was certainly slower this week then last when we banded over 400 hawks. Part was the weather and although migration was seen on some days, flight were high and hawks were non-responsive. A total of 79 hawks were banded during the week. Among them were: 54 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 4 Cooper's Hawk, 10 Northern Goshawk, 4 Red-tailed Hawk, 1 Broad-winged Hawk, 1 Rough-legged Hawk, 1 American Kestrel, 2 Merlins and 2 Peregrine Falcon. --Frank Nicoletti, Chris Neri, & Nova Mackentley

One of the reasons that our banding project runs so well is because of the numerous volunteers. Similar to last fall, we have many volunteer students who are in training. Some of these folks applied for the owl bander position, so even though I was unable to offer them the job, I did offer them the opportunity to come to Duluth to see how the banding stations operate. Many took me up on the offer. The season started with 3 students and 1 graduate from Purdue University. They had an "awesome" experience and hope to return. Others have come for long weekends and 2 are here to learn and and gain experience through volunteering. Rachel Harris is here from Marquette, MI and Lauren Haag is here from Bridgewater, NJ. They are staying longer periods and learning as much as they can about raptor and songbird migration and banding. We are also training many local volunteers, which help at the stations. Some of the regulars are: Karen Stubenvoll, Miranda Durbin, Bruce Munson, Caitlin Johnson, Kati Kristenson, Gary Leeper, Todd Burnside and Allen Best. There are also numerous folks that also help with songbird and owl banding. We could not function without them and I am personally grateful to my colleagues who help with training and mentoring all these folks.

Frank Nicoletti
Banding Director

Bill Clark with an adult male Merlin, image by Frank Nicoletti
Rachel Harris with her first goshawk, image by Kate Nicoletti
Lauren Haag with a Merlin, image by Frank Nicoletti
Rough-legged Hawk, image by Chris Neri
Cooper's Hawk, image by Miranda Durbin

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries October 5-12, 2013


This has been a great week to be up at Hawk Ridge, with a good variety of raptors being seen, and spectacular fall colors. Last week I was surprised to see so many Broad-wings moving, while this week I was surprised to see so many Red-tails, including a surprise flight of 662 on October 7th. Usually there is a long period in late September and early October between the peak of the Broad-wings and the peak of the Red-tails, but this season they seem to have nearly overlapped. The first Golden Eagles of the season showed up on October 7th, including one that completely lacked a tail! Northern Goshawks are now being seen daily at the Ridge, most of which are juveniles and second-years- no doubt even better numbers will be moving in the next few weeks. The weather has been mild all week, with temperatures as high as 73 degrees on October 9th, and still no frost, so I suspect we will continue to see a good variety of raptors as the early season species overlap with the late season species.


As expected, the variety of non-raptors moving through this week has dropped sharply, but there are still good numbers of birds, with over 21,000 non-raptors counted during the week. The bulk of the movement now is American Robins and Rusty Blackbirds, but mixed with these flocks you can still see Cedar Waxwings, Purple Finches, American Pipits, Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Eastern Bluebirds. Although a few Blue Jays and Yellow-rumped Warblers are still flying by, these species are well passed their peak for the season. Flocks of American Crows have started moving down the shore, and on October 6th a nice flight of 169 Sandhill Cranes came over the Ridge. Hopefully there will be very large flights of Rustys and robins in the next week or two.

Karl Bardon
Count Director

Northern Goshawk juvenile
juvenile Norther Goshawk over the counting platform at Hawk Ridge

White-throated Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow perched in sumac at Hawk Ridge