Friday, August 6, 2021

Hawk Ridge News - June 2021



Dear Hawk Ridge Friends,


Clay-colored Sparrow May 2021 by E Bruhnke

Summer is almost here! Birds are singing and busy with nesting season. It's a joyful time to go outside or open your windows to listen to  and observe all our feathered friends. We had a wonderful spring migration with 18,157 raptors and over 28,000+ other birds counted. You can read the full summary report below. Also, be sure to check out our upcoming events too, including an exciting birding/nature trip to Panama! Thanks again for your support and we hope to catch the migration with you this fall!

West Skyline Hawk Count Summary 2021

By Frank Nicoletti, Spring Count Director

Bald Eagle May 2021 by E Bruhnke 5

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory conducted the West Skyline Spring Count from Febuary 22 through May 31, 2021. This is the fourth year of the planned 10-year, full-time consecutive spring count, with thanks to a generous donation. We continue to document and study the spring migration from West Skyline Parkway in Duluth, MN, which is the western-most count on the Great Lakes.

American Kestrel May 2021 by E Bruhnke 4The same protocol was used this season,  as in past years with the use of two count sites depending of wind direction. These counts and data can be viewed real-time online through the Dunkadoo database, as well as raptor count on A summary and total of birds counted were also entered into the eBird database each day. The count was conducted for 90 days during the spring with 9 days not covered, due  to inclement weather.  A total of 591 hours were logged this season with an average of 6.5 hours per day.  A total of  18,157 raptors were counted of 16 species. The average number of raptors counted was 202 per day. 


Broad-winged Hawk Spring Count May 2021 by E Bruhnke 2

The season total of 18,157 was well below the average of 25,220 since 2018. This is the second season in a row that recorded below average numbers. Weather patterns for each season for the past two years were similar with many north and northeast winds and few warm fronts. These conditions often spread out the flight.  Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed  Hawk,  Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, and Peregrine Falcons were down by 30-60%, which correlated with poor weather conditions when these migrant were moving through. Other regular migrating species numbers were only slightly below average. The exception were Cooper’s Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk with record numbers, 55 and 7, respectfully.


Dark morph Red-tailed Hawk April 2021 F Nicoletti 2Highlights for raptors included two adult light Harlan’s, 3 dark Swainson’s Hawk, and 3 adult dark Broad-winged Hawk and 7 Red-shouldered Hawks. We saw nice flights of eagles with over 1,100  Bald and 44 Golden during the period of March 20-22. Of course watching the raptors migrating daily is always a highlight. The non-raptor migration from the overlook never really materialized this season, although some efforts were made to get there early. However, some species of note included Cackling and Greater White-fronted Geese, Red-throated Loons, Snowy Egret,  Whimbrels, Willet and Townsend’s Solitare.


Red-tailed Hawk April 2021 F Nicoletti 3Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is excited to continue gaining knowledge about the spring migration through Duluth and how it compares to the fall counts. This is also a great way for public outreach and continuing the education of raptor and bird conservation in the Western Great Lakes Region. We were able to safely hold a Spring Migration Workshop in April led by Education Director, Margie Menzies. It was wonderful to see many visitors out enjoying the migration with us. Hopefully, the pandemic will continue to subside and we’ll connect with even more people during the fall migration and again in spring 2022. We truly appreciate your support and hope to see you soon!


Barn Swallow May 2021 by E Bruhnke



Many helped with the count and I truly appreciate their contributions. A special thanks to Ralph Larsen, John Edwards, Ed Longhway, Dave Carman, Hannah Toutonghi, Steve Kolbe and Erik Bruhnke for your time volunteering.


Turkey Vulture-2541


Bald Eagle-5070

Northern Harrier-62

Sharp-shinned Hawk-1525

Cooper’s Hawk-55

Northern Goshawk April 2021 by F Nicoletti

Northern Goshawk-6

Red-shouldered Hawk-7

Broad-winged Hawk-5733

Red-tailed Hawk-2542

Swainson’s Hawk-3

Rough-legged Hawk-236

Golden Eagle-117

American Kestrel-41


Peregrine Falcon-12




Panama Trip: Under the River of Raptors

October 28th - November 4th, 2021

CLICK HERE for travel info

Must register in full by July 25th!

Please join us for this amazing opportunity! Hawk Ridge Education Director, Margie Menzies, in cooperation with Holbrook Travel will accompany a lucky group of birders to Panama this fall to view the incredible river of raptors in peak season as they migrate to their wintering grounds. Over 2 million raptors were counted in one record-breaking day at Panama City's Ancon Hill! 

Bay-headed-Tanager-BY-Julian-londono_4 3
In addition to seeing raptors, you'll experience the best of birding in Panama with visits to a variety of settings, including rainforest, cloud forest, tropical dry forest, and Mangrove habitats. Each setting filled with it's own endemic species, colorful and unique resident birds, and visiting migratory species. The tour group is accompanied by a local birder/nature guide in each region. For full itinerary and travel details, please click HERE (or go to You can also download the brochure HERE. We hope to see you consider traveling with us this fall! Please note space is limited on this trip and participants must be registered/paid in full by July 25, 2021. If you have further questions, please contact Debbie Jordan at or 866-748-6146. 

P.S. There's also a post-optional trip extension to the more remote Darien Province of Eastern Panama, which includes an incredible array of forest birds - including the rare Harpy and Crested Eagles. You can find more info on this post-extension trip HERE or download the brochure HERE.  

Hawk Weekend Festival
September 17-19, 2021 (Registration Opens in July)


Come and celebrate the fall bird migration with us! Hawk Weekend is the annual festival held by the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, MN. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase one of North America’s best places to experience the fall bird migration at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. There will be a variety of field trips, hikes, programs, and activities for all ages. More info coming soon!

Fall Education Programs for Groups

September 1 - October 31, 2021

Margie-Menzies-HRBO Education Director

If you have a group that’s interested in learning more about the amazing migration phenomenon at Hawk Ridge, we would love to share fascinating stories, science, and beautiful birds with you through a scheduled program this fall at Hawk Ridge September 1st - October 31st. To find out more about offerings, please contact Margie Menzies, or 218-428-8722, for booking your program.

Advanced Raptor ID Workshop with Bill Clark


October 15-17, 2021

Bill Clark author of Peterson Guide to Hawks by Frank NicolettiIf you missed the virtual Advanced Raptor ID workshop with Bill Clark last fall, now is your chance to save the date for this fall! Bill will be back in 2021 for an in-person field and classroom workshop the weekend of October 15-17th. Raptor expert, Bill Clark, is a photographer, author, researcher, and lecturer and has over 5 decades experience working with birds of prey, including 5 years as Director of NWF's Raptor Information Center. He has published numerous articles on raptor subjects; has traveled extensively world-wide studying, observing, and photographing raptors; and regularly leads raptor and birding tours and workshops, both home and abroad. He is the co-author of the Peterson Guide to Hawks and Photographic Guide to North American Raptors, as well as author of field guides for Europe, Africa, and Central America. Registration will open in July! 

Ways of Giving


Become 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!


Support Hawk Ridge by Shopping!


Sawwhet-Shirt Design 2019

If you missed out on one of our fun shirt designs from a past season at our merchandise trailer, you might be in luck. You can order some of our past designs like this adorable Northern Saw-whet Owl by Alexa Carson and it's shipped directly to you! Order online HERE!


Two more simple ways to raise money for Hawk Ridge are by using charitable online shopping options. 1) You can shop online at your favorite stores through GoodShop and Hawk Ridge earns cash back! 2) If you like to shop on Amazon, you can add Hawk Ridge as your charity you support via Amazon Smile and Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory receives a donation of 0.5% of eligible purchases!

Books with Portion of Proceeds coming to Hawk Ridge! 

Coming Soon! 

Art on the Edge of the Boreal Forest: Alternative Futures for the trees, birds and insects

Original art by ten Minnesota artists

Text by Lee Frelich, Ph.D. and Gerald Niemi, Ph.D. 

Art on the Edge of the Boreal Forest book coverA group of Minnesota botanical artists applied their skills and knowledge to create a visual archival record of Minnesota's threatened boreal forest. Dr. Frelich, director for the Center for Forest Ecology, and Dr. Niemi, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth (and former Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory Board Member & Research Chair), as well as Jane Albers, DNR Forest Health Specialist, contributed research on threatened boreal trees, plants, birds, and insects. This collection is important because the ecology of the boreal forest is undergoing slow and silent but significant change due to disturbances caused by fire, invasive insects and stressful climate conditions.


Hawks on High - Everyday Miracles in a Hawk Ridge Season

By Phil Fitzpatrick with drawings by Penny Perry

Phil Fitzpatrick captures the magic of migration at Hawk Ridge and interesting bird bits beyond through his beautiful collection of poetry. Poems are brought to life through the artwork of Penny Perry. Books for sale online and at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve during the fall season September 1 - October 31. 

Simply Donate


You 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


P.S. If you missed any of our recent previous newsletters, you can find them HERE.

Thank you again for your wonderful gift of 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
Non-Profit Organization

Federal Tax ID 76-0746366