Thursday, October 29, 2020

Hawk Ridge News - Annual Meeting 2020 Reminder & Migration Update




Dear Hawk Ridge Friends,

Peregrine Falcon Sept 20 by J RichardsonWhat an exciting past few days! Don't forget we will be holding our Hawk Ridge Annual Member Meeting virtually tomorrow September 18th at 2:30pm Central Time with guest speaker following at 3pm. Joe Barnes, Nongame Wildlife State Specialist, Nevada Department of Wildlife will present Peregrine Falcons as a Biomonitor: A Local Study Taken to a Continental Scale. Annual meeting link with separate link for guest speaker found HERE. We hope you can join us! Please read on for count & banding highlights from the first 2 weeks of September! Happy Hawkwatching!

Fall Count Highlights (September 1-16, 2020)

When it's good, it's really good!

Blue Jay Sept 20 by J RichardsonWhat a start to September for both raptors and passerines. On 9/16, we had a great day counting season high 1,560 Sharp-shinned Hawks & 6,471 Broad-winged Hawks, as well as 1 Red-shouldered Hawk, 4 Swainson's Hawks and 6,000+ Blue Jays! With yesterday's numbers, we are almost to 45,000 Blue Jays and over 20,000 Broadies already (9,551 Broad-winged Hawks were also counted on 9/13).

GOEA journal entry by count trainee Emma Regnier Sept 20A Golden Eagle was counted on Monday, September 14th, which is one of the earliest records of one at Hawk Ridge in the last 15 years. Count Trainee, Emma, shared this beautiful journal sketch of it! We also counted a Mississippi Kite on September 9th, which is an exciting species for us, as it's not one we see each season.Winds for the most part have been very favorable blowing birds from as far as NW Canada. Thursday, September 17th and Friday, September 18th look to be great migration days as well.

Fall 2020 Count Staff Over 28,000 raptors of 16 species have been counted for the season, as well as 120+ species of over 100,000 other migrating birds. We are looking forward to seeing what other surprises are to come! We also welcome 2 fantastic new Count Trainees this fall, Emma Regnier & Maggie Brown, who will be learning and counting with us through the end of October!

You can view our count live HERE!

Eyes to the skies everybody! 

-John Richardson, Fall Count Director

Fall Raptor Banding Update (September 1-14, 2020)

American Kestrel Sept 20 by J Richardson 2A total of 493 raptors of 8 species were banded during the first 2 weeks of September. Northern Harrier (8), Sharp-shinned Hawk (431), Cooper's Hawk (7), Northern Goshawk (5), Broad-winged Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk (11), American Kestrel (10), and Merlin (18). It's been a good start to September! We also welcome new banding staff - our awesome banding trainees, Jessy Wilson & Halle Lambeau, and new Owl Bander, Danny Erickson. Owl Banding started on 9/15, so we'll be sure to post updates on that soon!

* If you missed our previous newsletter, we've include it below for more information about our research, events, and other educational resources.

Broad-winged Hawk Sept 2020 by J RichardsonIt has been a good start to the fall bird migration and we appreciate your support. We're glad we can still be at Hawk Ridge during this amazing annual spectacle and share our love of birds with you. Thanks to all that have visited and cooperated with the new safety precautions in place. This was an important step to ensure we could continue our research, education, and stewardship efforts this fall. You can follow along with our count live each day HERE or on

Visitors are welcome to come up and view the migration with new safety precautions in place. We will have limited staff providing public education and migration interpretation at the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve main overlook starting September 1st through October 31st (daily 9am-4pm). Read on to find out about migration updates and planning your visit! We are hoping for a safe and healthy season to celebrate the magnificent migration at Hawk Ridge with you!

Summer MAPS Bird Banding Summary Report

Philadelphia Vireo 20 by J RichardsonWe concluded our 7th year of the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) project on August 3rd. As is typical, the last session was our busiest with 87 new or recaptured birds. We did get our first migrants of the year with Tennessee and Canada Warblers showing up during the last session. For the summer, we banded 269 new birds including our first brown thrasher and winter wrens for the summer. As importantly as the new birds, we had 85 birds recaptured during the MAPS sessions. Some of these were recaptured from the same year they were banded, but many more were returns from previous years. Our first two recaptures were male redstarts caught at the same time in the same net. Likely, they were chasing each other while trying to establish territories in early June. Interestingly, each of the past two years, we have heard and caught Golden-Winged warbler in the first sessions, but they seem to disappear by July and we still haven’t found any breeding in our MAPS territory. Perhaps next year we will get our first breeding record and some young.

At the end of the last MAPS session, we take down all the equipment, and reposition it for the beginning of the Fall banding season. Our first day of Fall songbird banding was August 5th. Thanks again to all the summer MAPS volunteers who worked especially hard this year due to the extra work keeping safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were able to socially distanced, and everyone stayed healthy and safe. Hopefully, we will be past the pandemic by the beginning MAPS year #8 in June, 2021.

Fall Count Highlights (August 15-29th, 2020)


Bald Eagles August 2020 by J Richardson 2The fall season started August 15th and migration is well underway. 83 species have been recorded with 11 of them been raptors. 34,000 individual birds complete the August count as of writing, with 1,454 being raptors. 


Of the raptors, BALD EAGLE (280) and BROAD-WINGED HAWK (743) have by far showed up in respectable numbers. The Broad-winged Hawk total is the highest since 1977.


Sharp-shinned Hawk August 2020 by J RichardsonNevertheless, the number of NORTHERN HARRIER (39) and RED-TAILED HAWK (60) is not bad for August with the vast majority being immature birds making the maiden voyage south. Next, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (243) and AMERICAN KESTREL (19) have started up well before the bulk of those that show up in September.


Common Nighthawk Aug 2020 by A WitchgerThe weather has been mostly warm and very dry with little rain to speak of. We had 4 days of easterly winds with fog 19th-22nd, but then all those birds that were backed up came through in droves. Most notably was Tuesday 25th when Common Nighthawks came through all day and by the end of the day we had over 27,000! 


There 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. 


It looks to be another great season at Hawk Ridge already! We welcome back Nick Pusateri, Count Trainee from 2019, now as a Counter! We are excited for the staff that will be joining us.Their wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm about birds 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 America has to offer!


Eyes to the skies everybody! 

-John Richardson, Fall Count Director

Fall Raptor Banding Update

Merlin August 2020 by J RichardsonA total of 127 raptors of 8 species have been banded through August 29th. Northern Harrier (4), Sharp-shinned Hawk (83), Northern Goshawk (2), Broad-winged Hawk (2), Red-tailed Hawk (6), American Kestrel (4), and Merlin (20). It's been a good start to the season thus far! We welcome back Abbie Valine, Banding Trainee from 2019 and longtime volunteer, now as a Bander! We're looking forward to the rest of the great banding crew joining us soon!

We are continuing two of our research projects again this fall in studying exposure to two contaminants, Polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) and methylmercury (Hg). These are bioaccumulative toxins, which cause reproductive failure in birds.

Grad Student Emily Pavlovic with Sharp-shinned Hawk Aug 2020We are also happy to be working with four great master’s students at UMD on their raptor research (Lisa Broullette, Emily Pavlovic, Allie Pesano, and Hannah Toutonghi) - with Allie and Hannah being former Hawk Ridge Banding Trainees! Projects include:

·         -Red-tailed Hawk genetics

·         -Migration patterns of Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Saw-whet Owls, and Red-tailed Hawks using stable isotopes

·         -Prey composition of raptors during migration

·         -A study on Northern Hawk Owls

In-hand Guide to N.A. Raptors  2
-Frank Nicoletti, Banding Director

P.S. The In-hand Guide to Diurnal North American Raptors authored by renowned raptor experts Jerry Liguori, Jesse Watson, Dave Oleyar, and Frank Nicoletti is available for purchase HERE. Hawk Ridge congratulates Frank and authors on this accomplishment!

Visitor Info for Viewing the Fall Bird Migration

Hawk Ridge Main Overlook We are excited for another fall bird migration season at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory! We are in operation under new safety guidelines and limited staff. Visitors are still welcome to come out and enjoy the migration. We just ask for your compliance and understanding with safety measures in place for the health and well being of our staff and visitors (you included!). This will be especially important at our main overlook, which is our primary visitor viewing area. Guidelines may also change pending regulations mandated by local, state, federal authorities. If you are planning to visit, please read our guidelines on our Plan Your Visit page and they will also be posted at the Hawk Ridge main overlook.



Visitors GuideMaggie Emma Count Trainees 2020 2



Meet Our Fall 2020 Team


We have a wonderful team for fall of 2020 of both return and new. You can find out who's who HERE on our staff page. We are all excited to share in the migration with you whether in person or virtually!

Hawk Ridge Volunteer Program

Fantastic Hawk Ridge Volunteer with Sharp-shinned Hawk - Sept 2019We LOVE our volunteers and appreciate all they do. Hawk Ridge is fortunate to have so many amazing people devote time each fall and some throughout the year in helping with our research, education, and stewardship efforts. With our limitations in staff, programs, visitor services and needed safety guidelines in place, we are not able to have our regular volunteer program this fall. We hope that any of you that were planning or hoping to start volunteering with us this season, please reach out again next year. Current volunteers will receive further information from us, if we haven't already connected.

New Count DisplayRalph Larsen and Dave Carman New Count Board Display

Last year we had a grant thanks to the Hawk Migration Association of N.A. to create a new count board and display. You may have already seen it featured on some of our Facebook posts. Thanks to the craftsmanship of Josh Yokel for building and volunteer help from David Carman and Ralph Larsen for installation!


Keeping Safe While Visiting Hawk Ridge

We love our visitors, but as everyone is aware, these are exceptional times for the safety of everyone with COVID-19. We encourage visitors at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve (on road and trails) to stay safe and keep others safe by following physical and social distancing guidelines outdoors. The National Recreation and Park Association put together a statement HERE for safe use of parks and open spaces following guidelines set by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

COVID-19 Social Distancing Infographic

Charitable Giving Incentives

Under the the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) passed in March, there are increased tax incentives for charitable giving. If you itemize your taxes, the AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) limit for charitable cash contributions has increased from 60 percent to 100 percent deducted. IRA Qualified Charitable Distributions can also be applied. If you don't itemize your taxes, the CARES Act allows for an additional "above the line" deduction for up to $300 for cash gifts made to charities, like Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Donors should consult with their tax/legal advisor for questions on charitable giving incentives.

Upcoming Events
*Please stay tuned for fall program updates & changes due to COVID-19

Hawk Ridge Virtual Annual Meeting
Friday, September 18th at 2:30pm Central Time
Virtual Guest Speaker to follow at 3pm (via separate link) PLEASE NOTE TIME CHANGED for speaker to 3pm Central Time

Join us virtually for our Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory Annual Member Meeting. Board member elections will be held and an annual overview will be shared by Board Chair, Andrew Streitz and Executive Director, Janelle Long. Details to how to join meeting are found HERE.

Please join us after the annual meeting at 3:15pm for a virtual guest research presentation, Joe Barnes, Nongame Wildlife State Specialist, Nevada Department of Wildlife will present Peregrine Falcons as a Biomonitor: A Local Study Taken to a Continental Scale. NOTE: A separate link will be shared at the end of the annual meeting to join.

Hawk Weekend Festival - September 18-20th, 2020 (CANCELED)

Birdwatchers at Hawk Ridge 2

Unfortunately, the Hawk Weekend Festival is canceled for fall 2020. Due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns and having limited staff, we are unable to run the festival. We still plan to celebrate the migration that week and are looking at other ways to do that safely within our capacity.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk by John Richardson (3)Fall Bird Migration at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve - September 1 - October 31, 2020

Our fall migration count and banding research is in progress for this fall season. Visitors are welcome to view the migration at the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. We will have limited public education/interpretation. Please go to our Plan Your Visit page to read about our safety precautions in place and what you need to know before you visit.

Future Counter - J Richardson - Sept 19Become A Member Today!

If 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!


2019 ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS - Please click HERE to read and see how your support is helping us make a difference! Thank you!

Support Hawk Ridge by Shopping!

Purchase one of our unique artist-designed Hawk Ridge shirts or tote bags online. Two more simple ways to raise money for Hawk Ridge are by using 1) GoodShop and 2) Amazon Smile for your online shopping in support of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory to receive proceeds.

Thanks again for your support!


Janelle Long
Executive Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 3006
Duluth, MN 55803-3006
Call: 218-428-6209

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