Annual hawk migration in Duluth


Hawk watchers at Hawk Ridge: Photo courtesy Mark Ryan
Hawk watchers at Hawk Ridge: Photo courtesy Mark Ryan
Duluth, Minnesota is one of the best places in the Midwest for watching hawks and other birds of prey as they make their annual migration south for the winter.

Red-tailed Hawk in flight: Photo courtesy National Park Service.
Red-tailed Hawk in flight: Photo courtesy National Park Service.
Since the migrating birds avoid crossing large expanses of water, Lake Superior acts as a funnel, forcing them into Duluth where the lake narrows to its western point, and crossing is easier. This means that thousands of hawks and raptors fly over the region, coming down from Canada and other points north. One of the best sites to see them is at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, which is situated, in eastern Duluth at an overlook along the city’s Skyline Parkway.

The observation site draws not only vast numbers of birds (averaging over 94,000 per year) but also vast numbers of visitors who come each fall to watch the migration and enjoy the stunning panoramic views of Lake Superior and eastern Duluth.

If conditions are right, a lucky visitor may see Broad-wing Hawks, Osprey, Bald and Golden Eagles, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks, American Kestrels, Northern Goshawks, and Peregrine Falcons. Great Horned and Long-eared Owls can also be seen at times.

The raptors can be seen just about everyday during Autumn, except when it’s raining, Generally, the birds begin migrating over Hawk Ridge in mid-August through November. The best time to spot them is when the wind is blowing in from the west or northwest for a couple of days straight. Official counters scan the skies with binoculars most days and tally the migration. During “The Big Days”, which generally take place between September 10-25, tens of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks can be spotted soaring over the ridge. This past week over 28,000 of them were counted in just two days!

For directions and further information visit the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory website. Then pack up your binoculars and camera, and head north to Duluth.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

MSUAshley's picture
MSUAshley says:

That's really cool. Looking at the picture, you could go people watching and bird watching all at the same time.

posted on Sat, 09/23/2006 - 10:08am
maikayla's picture
maikayla says:

this is so cool

posted on Sat, 09/23/2006 - 12:54pm

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