Visit the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve
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When is the Best Time to Visit?
Hawks begin migrating
past Hawk Ridge in mid-August and continue through
November. The "Big Days", when we can get
tens of thousands of
Broad-winged Hawks flying over,
generally occur from September 10-25.
October is great for
viewing the migration, too, as we get good numbers of the "big"
birds...Bald and Golden Eagles, Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed
Hawks and Northern Goshawks. Naturalists are on site from September
1 through the end of October.
Click here to see the raptor
Hawkwatching, unlike most other wildlife
activities, is best during the middle of the day.
Generally, the raptors don't start flying until 8am, and they
taper off after 4pm. So plan your trip during the middle of the day:
between 10am and 2pm is best.
Weather plays a huge factor in the quality
of the flight--in fact, it's MORE important than
the date. Winds from the west or northwest are best for
bringing us big numbers of birds. If you come up on a day with south
or east winds, expect the flight to be slower.
We have a number of resources to help you
better identify raptors in flight and learn about their natural
history. Just print them off and bring them with you!
Flight ID sheet--for beginners; identify to raptor groups
Raptors in Flight ID
brochure--for the more experienced; identify to individual species
Raptors at a
Glance--natural history information on Hawk Ridge raptors
Regular bird guides are not much use in
identifying raptors in flight, so here are some other resources WE
USE & RECOMMEND:
Sutton, Dunne &
Sibley's HAWKS IN FLIGHT: this contains a lot of text about
identifying raptors in flight based mainly upon silhouettes and
behavior. The really bad photos in the back are perfect for testing
your skills--after all, do we get GREAT looks at all the birds
Wheeler & Clark's
A PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN RAPTORS: filled with
excellent photography of raptors, not only in flight, but also
perched. Includes information on identifying raptors not only to
species, but also to age, morph, subspecies, race and sex.
FROM EVERY ANGLE: again, a lot of great photographs and text. This
is a halfway point between the previous two books, focusing on
flight, behavior & silhouettes through text and photographs.
What do we Need to Bring?
Binoculars are a must! At times the hawks are so far away, or are
soaring so high that they are impossible to see with the naked eye.
The overlook staff has
binoculars to loan.
Dress for the weather! Weather is always more extreme at the Main
Overlook on Hawk Ridge. Make sure to bring warm, windproof
clothing. Of course, it does get sunny & hot on the Ridge, too, so
bring some sunscreen & a hat with a brim in case of balmy weather
(but don't worry about this in late October!).
Don't forget a snack and beverage.
Bring a chair! We do not provide
seating, although there are large rocks available on a first-come,
If you plan to do any hiking on the Hawk Ridge trails, hiking
boots are a good choice; at the very least, tennis shoes must be worn.
The trails are very rugged.
The land at Hawk Ridge belongs to the City of
Duluth and there is a leash law within the city limits.
Although we love dogs, we do not encourage people to bring their
dog to Hawk Ridge, especially on busy weekends.
If you need to bring your dog along, we ask
that you keep your dog on a short leash (4' maximum). Dogs
that bark or are not friendly toward adults, kids or other dogs MUST
NOT be brought to Hawk Ridge. Calm, friendly, quiet,
well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Hawk Ridge provides plenty of opportunity for
dogs to get into trouble--there are a lot of children, food,
expensive scopes on tripods and birds in the hand. Please be
vigilant. Also, come prepared to pick up after your dog.
Bringing a Group?
In order for your participants to
get the most out of their visit, consider scheduling a
group program. Our general
program, the Hawk Ridge Primer, gives an overview of the history of
Hawk Ridge, the migration, the research programs, how to identify
raptors, our purpose--and possibly (hopefully) includes a bird in
If you choose not to schedule a
group program, we recommend bringing along a knowledgeable guide to
inform your group about Hawk Ridge, the migration and the birds.
There may also be demonstrations with live, banded birds taking
place during your visit.
Note that staff/volunteers are
not available to speak to your group on spur of the moment, nor can
they do such talks/programs for free. Hawk Ridge is self-supported.
Help support Hawk Ridge AND get the most out of your visit by
scheduling a group program!
Cost and Parking?
There is no charge to visit the Hawk Ridge
If you enjoy your experience, we encourage you to
become a member or
contribute a donation
to help support our organization. Hawk
Ridge is a non-profit organization that is supported
through memberships, donations, adoptions and merchandise sales.
main overlook is located along Skyline Parkway, a city roadway in
Duluth. Access is by car and parking is available along the roadway
near the main overlook.
Handicapped parking is available at the main overlook. Busses
and other large vehicles can drive through the main overlook and
turn around at a large parking area a little over a mile past the
Complete directions can be found
What Amenities are Available?
There is no building at Hawk Ridge; everything
is outdoors, and the main overlook is located on Skyline Parkway.
Skyline Parkway is open from late spring through late fall, although
the nature reserve is never closed and can be reached by hiking when
the road is closed.
Food order service is available for lunch every
Saturday from mid-September through mid-October, offering
sandwiches, wraps and pasties (meat & potato pie).
A portable toilet
is also available during the fall season.
What Activities are Available?
Naturalist staff & volunteers will be on site daily from 9am-4pm from September 1 – October 31. Demonstrations
with banded raptors and passerines, "adoptions",
and releases regularly take place each day.
(Note: the timing and regularity of demonstrations with banded
birds depends upon the quality of the flight and the number of birds
our banders are able to catch and band that day.) Owl
evenings, including owl adoptions, also take place during the fall
and the schedule can be found on our
public programs schedule.
overlook staff is also on site to help
with raptor identification, answer questions,
and sell Hawk Ridge merchandise. Regularly
scheduled public programs are
also available throughout the season. If you are bringing a
group, consider scheduling a group
Want to "adopt" a raptor when you visit?
Our Adopt a Raptor program is a fun, meaningful way for us to
fund our education and research activities. Participants get to hold
"their" freshly-banded bird, get their picture taken and then release it back into
the wild. We send each adopter a packet of information about their
bird, including pictures, a certificate with their bird's
information, fact sheets and a letter of thanks.
raptor is easy! Simply stop at our table upon your arrival
and ask to be put on the list. The availability of some raptors is
limited, so we recommend being flexible in your choice. Selecting
"any species" will allow you to either accept or pass on birds (in
which case you would stay on the list) that become available.
You will also notice the hawk counters at the
main overlook; however,
they are searching the sky & counting the thousands of raptors
(and songbirds) that
fly past Hawk Ridge, so please direct any
questions/comments to a naturalist or a
Some fun links:
adopt a raptor
adopt a passerine
raptor count |
trail map |
If you've read all the information above and
haven't found the answer to your question, please let us know!
Direct additional questions to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call
us at 218.428.6209.