Monday, December 30, 2019

November Summary and 2019 Highlights

Dear Friends of Hawk Ridge,

Happy Owlidays 2019! Original photo by Hannah ToutonghiWe hope this letter finds you healthy and happy during this holiday season. THANKS to your support, we had another successful year! You can read the November count and banding reports below, as well as our highlights from 2019. If you'd like to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation to help Hawk Ridge continue to do our best for the birds, you can easily do so by clicking HERE TODAY!  We truly appreciate your gift and look forward to connecting with you in 2020! 

November 2019 Banding and Count Reports

Raptor Banding Summary
Trainee, Abbie Valine, with Northern GoshawkThe first half of November was good for migration. It was an impressive number of the raptors seen from the blind, this good response was due to colder than normal temperatures and a steady movement with westerly winds. The second half of the month turned to easterly winds, warmer than normal temperatures, and many cloudy days. It was clear that most raptors by then, especially goshawks, were already settled in their winter territory. It was unusual to not catch any goshawks after the 14th of November!!

RTHARaptors that eat small mammals (voles and mice) seem high from the reports I received from observers north of us. Lots of Rough-legged Hawk with counts of 50 plus in Sax-Zim alone were reported all month with lesser numbers of Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawk. Likely Boreal, which were reported moving in good numbers in eastern Ontario, were likely stopped short before reaching us due to the high density.
RLHA(2) 2The HRBO station was open 29 days with the 30th of November closed due to a winter storm that dumped 20 plus inches of snow in Duluth. A total of  96 raptor were banded, which is well above our average in recent years. The Moose Valley site was in operation on 3 days during the month. For the second year in a row, the season's only Rough-legged Hawk (an adult female light morph) was captured at this site. Trainee Hannah Toutonghi with Northern Goshawk
The following was captured and banded: 
Northern Harrier-2
Sharp-shinned Hawk-3
Northern Goshawk-42
Red-tailed Hawk-48
Rough-legged Hawk-1

One more highlight was catching and banding Northern Shrike. Two were banded this November.

-Frank Nicoletti, Hawk Ridge Banding Director

Owl Banding Summary

Owl migration came to a gradual close leading up to the end of the banding season on November 9.  A few Northern Saw-whet Owls were still moving through each night, with a total of 25 individuals caught in November.  Long-eared Owls kept the nights exciting until almost the very end, including a late push of 27 individuals on November 7.  In fact, nearly half of the Long-eared Owls caught this fall were caught in the last 10 nights of the season!

IMG_2506A total of 1263 individual owls of were caught throughout the fall: 1144 Northern Saw-whet Owls, 111 Long-eared Owls, 5 Barred Owls, 1 Eastern Screech-Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, and 1 Boreal Owl.  Thank you to everyone involved in making this yet another amazing owl season at the Ridge!

-Kate Maley, Fall Owl Bander

Bird Migration Count Summary

Adult Bald Eagle by J RichardsonNovember wrapped up our last month of migration at Hawk Ridge! A total of 2,268 raptors were counted for the month, the most for the last five years. By far the most numerous of the raptors were Bald Eagles, with a total of 1,160 counted in November. This number is not unusual, though it did help set a new Fall record for Bald Eagles. That previous record was set two years ago at 6,099 in 2017. The new record this Fall is 6,177!

Red-tailed Hawk - J Richardson - Sept 19 4The second highest numbers were the Red-tailed Hawks. Many Red-tails came through within the first two weeks of November, but a few still trickled through right to the end of the season. We saw 840 this month and 6,734 for the season. The only other raptor to reach triple digits for the month was Golden Eagles, just managing to see 101 in November. This is almost half of all the Golden Eagles seen at Hawk Ridge for the whole season! The season total for Goldens is 203 individuals.

Rough-legged Hawk by Karl BardonThe rest of the more common November raptors made steady if not spectacular appearances. Rough-legged Hawks came in third with 79 birds in November, a very low number for the month where usually over two or three hundred are seen. In fact, the total Rough-legged count is just 158, the lowest season sincNOGOe 1989!

One of the amazing things about November is the chance to see fantastic looks at Northern Goshawks. This is the month when many adults begin coming through and many times, the view of these birds coming straight through the treetops is like nothing else. We ended up with a November total of 62 Goshawks leading to a season total of 239.

Finishing off theSSHA by Jason Heinen 2019 raptors came a few late Sharp-shinned Hawks, with 17 birds in November and 9 Northern Harriers. These late stragglers rounded out the November raptor species diversity a little, giving a small change of pace from eagles and Red-tails.
American Robin by J Richardson
Most non-raptor numbers decline at the end of the season. However, the American Robin made its way to the claim the highest number spot with 43,903 counted by the end of November. While “unidentified warbler” came in right behind Robins,

Blue Jay J Richardson Sept 19Blue Jays were the second highest of the birds we were able to identify at 24,371 for the season. One bird that also became a regular in November was the Northern Shrike. This hunting passerine made 11 appearances at the Ridge totaling 23 for the season. All of the passerine daily checklists can also be found on e-bird for Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve:

IMG_1135It was a cold and snowy end to the season, but we are very grateful to all the volunteers and regular watchers who made the last few months enjoyable. We are looking forward to the Spring 2020 count, and seeing many of you next Fall for another great season at Hawk Ridge!

- Krista Botting and Hawk Ridge Count Team

2019 Hawk Ridge Highlights

Here’s what your support is helping us achieve:

BAEA August 2019 by Jason Heinen
Bird Migration Count Research
Conducted both spring and fall counts this year with over 90,000 raptors of 17 different species and nearly 210,000 other migrating birds of over 160 species counted in 2019! New Bald Eagle records for both spring and fall! Over 3 million raptors have been counted at Hawk Ridge since the standardized count started in fall 1972! This data is contributed to hawkcount.oSandhill Cranes J Richardson Sept 19rg and other projects to be used for bird conservation research, such as the Raptor Population Index. You can view the fall raptor count totals HERE and season totals HERE. The West Skyline Spring Count starts again March 1st - hope to see you there!

Eastern Screech Owl Oct 2019 by K MaleyBird Banding Research –  Hawk Ridge is the largest raptor banding operation in the country and completed its 48th fall season! Over 3300 raptors (including 1263 owls) were banded in fall 2019. Highlights were recapturing the Eastern Screech Owl from 2018, as well as banded Short-eared and Boreal Owls! We continued passerine bandingHawk Ridge Banders with Scott Weidensaul holding Northern Harrier Oct 2019 research & education at Hawk Ridge, including the volunteer-led summer MAPS project and breeding bird surveys. All banding data is contributed to the USGS Bird Banding Lab. Through banding, we can better understand the life history and population ecology of birds by tracking survival, behavior, and movement.

IMG_7149Education - Taught over 200 programs nearly 5,500 participants of all ages in 2019! This includes our school programs, youth groups, workshops, field trips and outreach events. We also continue to share the wonder of the migration with thousands of visitors through live bird education demos, kid's cart activities and crafts, and interpretive programs. IMG_7852

Stewardship of Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve - Coordinated volunteer-led projects and efforts throughout the year at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, including invasive species management, cleaning up the reserve (trails, litter), & working on site management maintenance and improvements.

Hawk Ridge Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients 2019 Jeanne Filiatrault Laine and Gail MarsmanEvents - Held our annual Hawk Weekend festival in September. Dr. John Fitzpatrick gave a wonderful bird conservation presentation and attendees enjoyed field trips and workshops. We also held our 3rd Take Flight with Hawk Ridge Gala in October. We shared successes & highlights, celebrated long-time volunteers Gail Marsman & Jeanne Filiatrault Laine with the Hawk Ridge Lifetime Achievement award, enjoyed a fantastic owl presentation by guest speaker Scott Weidensaul, and close to $9,000 filled our kettle of hawks in support of Hawk Ridge!
Count Trainee - Nick P with Northern Goshawk

Volunteer & Traineeship Programs - Over 70 volunteers contributed 3000 hours to Hawk Ridge this year! We had 7 new trainees this fall that worked closely with our managers and gained professional field experience skills within our count, banding, and education program areas. THANK YOU to all of our volunteers and trainees from 2019! We couldn't do what we do without you!

We hope our 2020 highlights will be just as memorable as this year! We are counting on your support TODAY to help make that happen!  Your tax-deductible contribution will have an enormous impact in not only helping ensure we can continue our fall migration count, bird banding, and environmental education programs, but also help Hawk Ridge reach it's full potential. Please consider making a year-end gift to make it possible to carry out our important bird research and education programs in 2020 and help Hawk Ridge Take Flight. Thank you!

We truly appreciate your support! 
NOTE: You can also avoid online processing fees and still help Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory by donating via mailed check to Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, P.O. Box 3006, Duluth, MN 55803 or if you have a PayPal account, you can also Donate via PayPal Giving Fund with no fees.
Happy Holidays and THANK YOU!

Janelle Long
Executive Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory