Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Hawk Ridge News - March 2021


Dear Hawk Ridge Friends,

The West Skyline Spring Count kicked off at the end of February and will run through the end of May. Over 3,100 raptors of 13 species and over 4,300 non-raptors of 26 species have been counted as of March 30th. You can view all our count March updates below. The bulk of the raptor count has been Bald Eagles, which we hold daily and season record counts for (1,026 in one day & 7,727 for the season in spring 2019). We are enjoying the sunshine, warmer weather, and great views of birds migrating and invite you out to view the migration with us! We also hope you can join us for our Spring Migration Workshop Weekend coming up April 16-18th (registration now open - CLICK HERE), which you can register for the whole weekend or a la carte field trips or sessions. Thank you for helping us and the birds continue to fly! YOU are appreciated!

Hawk Ridge West Skyline Spring Count Updates (March 2021)

March 30, 2021

Monday the 29th had a welcomed and unusual change of weather for March with sunshine and temps in the 60s compared to today with temps back in the 30s and strong gusty winds. A good showing of approximately 50 visitors came out to enjoy the migration with us yesterday (Monday) with 235 raptors counted compared to only 24 raptors today. The majority of raptors seen yesterday were Bald Eagles (147) and Red-tailed Hawks (73), but we did have a good diversity of other species: 1 Northern Harrier, 7 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 2 Cooper's Hawks, 1 Red-shouldered, 2 Rough-legged, 1 Golden Eagle, and 1 American Kestrel. 

Be sure to register for our Spring Migration Weekend Workshop - find out more HERE!

March 27, 2021

The weather and flight conditions have been poor for migration the past few days at the West Skyline Spring Count. Little has moved since the big flight of Monday March 22. However, the weather conditions are changing tomorrow and Monday. We are anticipating Monday should see a good movement of raptors and non-raptors with warmer temperatures reaching 60 degrees and strong south winds predicted. We hope you can get out and grab your binoculars and join us for hopefully a spectacular day of migration at the West Skyline Spring Count (Enger count site)! Please note - the section of road (front of Hank Jensen Dr on West Skyline Dr) where the count is conducted is closed, so you’ll need to walk a short distance. Remember you can also follow us on Dunkadoo for up to the minute counts. https://dunkadoo.org/explore/hawk-ridge-bird-observatory/west-skyline-hawk-count-spring-2021

Frank Nicoletti
Spring Count Director

March 24, 2021

As predicted this past weekend plus Monday turned out to be the main push of the breeding core of adult Bald Eagles. These eagles pushed ahead of an approaching front that arrived late Monday night. These northern breeders will soon be in on territory and nesting. The three days (3/20-3/23) saw nearly 1200!! Saturday and Sunday saw lots of visitors and all were “WOWED” to a spectacular show - with many raptors close and low. Another highlight was a Northern Saw-whet Owl, which was found sleeping in a nearby tree. Many visitors got to see this as well.

We also saw a good flight of Golden Eagles,  including 26 on Monday afternoon. Monday’s weather in the morning was overcast and not looking good. At about 2:30 the conditions changed and over 600 raptors moved through! Eagles were seen low overhead in groups of 12-30 coming through in rivers along with scattered other raptors, including two adult Red-shouldered Hawks which are uncommon at this site.

Non-raptor movement was also good and included over 3000 Canada Geese and amongst them two Snow Geese, some Cackling, and White-fronted Geese. Some expected early waterfowl came in and Tundra Swans had a good showing of 150. The only passerine movement was our first push of American Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds along with Common Grackles. A few Common Redpolls were noted moving and two flocks of Bohemian Waxwings.

I want to thank all who came out to enjoy the weekend migration with us and to those who helped, including Erik Bruhnke, Ralph Larsen, Hannah Toutonghi, John Richardson and Stephen Nelson.

See the table on right to view the daily totals or or view count live here: https://dunkadoo.org/explore/hawk-ridge-bird-observatory/west-skyline-hawk-count-spring-2021 Updates will follow and predicted flights will be posted to give all a chance to come out to view the migration through the end of May.

Thanks to Jason Heinen, Hannah T and Erik B for sharing there photos.

Frank Nicoletti - Spring Count Director

March 21, 2021

Good day yesterday as the first Robins showed up, 1,500-/+ Canada Geese in the morning and another decent push of eagles! The local pair of peregrines also put on a great show for all the hawkwatchers throughout the day!

March 18, 2021

The West Skyline Hawk Watch has been conducted since February 22 with 130 hours logged. The majority of the 1448 raptors counted have been Bald Eagles. This weekend is setting up to be a big flight for eagles and other early migrants with temperatures in the 50's, SSW winds 15-25mph and an approaching front coming late on Sunday. So if you are in the neighborhood, grab your binoculars and enjoy the magnificent spring migration. We have also recorded our first Sandhill Cranes of the season, along with Trumpeter Swans and Canada Geese. There has also been a Townsend’s Solitaire and flocks of Bohemian Waxwings. I want to acknowledge the great crew of assistant counters who help me daily. I also want to thank Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optics for the generous donation of loaner binoculars for me to use this spring. Please note the City of Duluth will be closing off the front road to Enger Tower to vehicles starting Monday 3/22.  We are still able to conduct our Spring Count research, but others will need to walk/bike in for viewing/recreation.

Frank Nicoletti, Spring Count Director

WSHC totals:
Bald Eagle-1378
Northern Harrier-1
Cooper’s Hawk-2
Northern Goshawk-1
Red-tailed Hawk-8
Rough-legged Hawk-8
Golden Eagle-46
American Kestrel-1

March 10, 2021

I’m grateful to scan the skies with my good friend and mentor, Frank Nicoletti. Yesterday we had a nice late day push of Golden Eagles and a first-of-the-season Merlin. On Monday we tallied 216 Bald Eagles migrating by as well as a few gorgeous Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles too. Before we know it the whirlwinds of morning flight will be accompanying the raptor migration here in the northwoods! Here’s to savoring hawkwatching moments and enjoying the rich spectrum of visible migration to come. 


Erik Bruhnke
Spring Count Volunteer

March 5, 2021

The spring raptor count started on February 22 and will continue until the end of May. Mostly Bald Eagles have been moving so far with 297 counted. There have also been 7 Golden Eagles, 2 Cooper's Hawks and an adult dark Rough-legged Hawk. Weather is looking good for migration starting on Sunday 3/7 through Tuesday 3/9, ahead of an approaching front, and should provide us with our first triple digit flights. The count averages almost 30,000 raptors each spring. If interested in watching this spectacular flight, which occurs in west Duluth below Enger Tower or Thompson Hill, please check out our website at hawkridge.org for more information on the count and location. Hope to see you out there!

Frank Nicoletti
Spring Count Director

March 1, 2021

The Hawk Ridge West Skyline Spring Count is in action! It will run daily March 1-May 31 and you can view our live count by clicking on the link below. With warmer temps last week, eagles started moving and Frank already counted over 100 (80 Bald Eagles and 3 Golden Eagles were counted on 2/27!). We’re looking forward to sharing another great spring migration with you! https://dunkadoo.org/explore/hawk-ridge-bird-observatory/west-skyline-hawk-count-spring-2021

This count was started by Frank Nicoletti and conducted from 1997-2005 documenting an average of 26,000 raptors (comprised of 20 diurnal species with 4 being notable as rare & 1 owl species!). From 2006-2017, it ran primarily on a volunteer-basis, but thanks to a generous donation, we have been able to restart the count full-time March-May beginning in 2018 and continuing for at least 10 years. You can view the spring raptor count via HERE or the full live count HERE or from our home page at hawkridge.org. We invite you to come out and visit us 10am-2pm (weather-dependent)! Please see directions below.

Directions to the West Skyline Spring Count: 

IMPORTANT: Please note that the spring count takes place on WEST Skyline Parkway (at one of two sites depending on wind direction) vs our fall count site at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve on EAST Skyline Parkway. 

In S, SW, SE, N, NW or W winds: overlook below Enger Tower.
Continue past the Enger Golf Course on West Skyline Parkway to overlook pullout just below Enger Tower (marked with a sign, “Rice’s Point"). NOTE: The front portion of Hank Jensen Rd loop on West Skyline Parkway is closed off, so you will need to park along West Skyline or at the Twin Ponds parking area and walk in. If you don’t see anyone at the overlook with binoculars, try the Thompson Hill site or check our Facebook page.

In NE or E winds: overlook below Thompson Hill rest area.
Directions: From Hwy 35, take the Boundary Avenue exit (249) and cross to the north side of the freeway. Turn RIGHT onto West Skyline Parkway as if going to the Thompson Hill Rest Stop. Drive past the first rest stop entrance to the overlook directly below the rest stop (you’ll come to the second rest stop entrance if you go too far). If you don’t see anyone at the overlook with binoculars, try the Enger Tower site or check our Facebook page.

 More general information on both the fall and spring migration counts can be found HERE!