Educational Adventures with Hawk Ridge

Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve and the Duluth Area are some of the best places in the country to observe bird migration in the field where it’s happening during both the Spring and the Fall! Where better to give your students a hands on introduction to the world of birds? Age appropriate level environmental education programs are available for school groups ranging from Kindergarten through College students.

Want to make a day of it, or bring other classes from the same grade level? There are multiple offerings for all ages to accommodate your field trip needs. Select Eyes on the Skies and combine it with the Mystery Bird Hike! Your first program will be full price and then enjoy your second program at half price! Choose to expand your programming with songbird banding for an eye to eye look at birds in the hand, or explore the miles of trails available at Hawk Ridge with an instructor guide, or on your own.

All programs take place at the outdoor classroom areas at Hawk Ridge (during the fall), Enger Tower (for Spring programming) or other locations in the general vicinity, and include a demonstration with a live bird, if available. Trained educators will work with students and provide instruction appropriate for students’ development and abilities. Groups should be prepared for short hikes and the weather during your visit. For further program information, including program options for each grade level, continue below on this page.

Program Fees

Costs for a one hour school program are $5.00 per student with a minimum charge of $100. Our Experience Hawk Ridge is a 90 minute class and is $6.00 per student with a minimum charge of $120. There are scholarships available to help with bus and program fees. Funds are distributed on a first come, first serve basis (Limited funds are available). To schedule your program and apply for scholarships and bus funds, click on the link below, or contact School Program Director, Margie Menzies with further questions.

Call or email Margie Menzies, School Program Director, to discuss specific details for
your program: Phone: 218-428-8722, email:

Winter, Spring and Summer programs are also available. For more information call or email Margie Menzies, School Program Director, to discuss specific details for your program: Phone: 218-428-8722, email:

Programs Available

Program Offerings – Fall and Spring migration are different for a variety of reasons, and the program offerings will vary a bit as appropriate for the season. Please note some programs may only be offered during fall.

Banding Songbirds (Appropriate at all levels)
45-60 minutes; Fee: $6 per student $120 minimum fee

At Hawk Ridge we band a lot of birds of prey, but we also band smaller songbirds collecting exactly the same kinds of data. Take an opportunity to learn about the science involved in banding. What kinds of data do we collect, how do we catch the birds, what do we learn from banding birds, what can we learn from a bird in the hand, that we can’t do watching them in nature? All these topics will be demonstrated and addressed, with the potential to see a variety of songbirds. Group sizes should be no larger than 15 for this opportunity. This activity is also weather dependent- rain and high winds may make this opportunity impossible on a given day.

 Hawks, and Falcons, and Eagles, Oh My! (Preschool-Kindergarten)
30-45 minutes; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

Birds are amazing! Explore the world of birds with us, as we take a look at how birds are like humans and how they are different. We’ll take a closer look at birds of prey who must hunt and eat meat to survive. How does that make them different from other birds? Take an up close hands on look at wings, feathers and talons, and learn how to look for birds at one of the best places in the U.S. to see birds as they move in the fall.

Birds of Prey 101 (Grades 1-2)
30–45 minutes; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

Birds that hunt and kill other animals are called raptors, or birds of prey. Each type of raptor has specials tools they use to help capture and kill their prey. Come explore the life of birds of prey and take a closer look at their individual tool boxes through feathers, wing and talons, and discover who’s connected to who in the natural world.

Raptors on the Move (Grades 1-2)
45 minutes; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

Many species of bird migrate. Where do they go? Why do some birds travel long distances, while others only fly a little ways south, or maybe not at all? How can you tell that’s a Bald Eagle and not a Turkey Vulture from a long ways away? Investigate what birds need for winter and how they get what they need. And explore how to figure out who’s flying over your head from their shapes and how they fly.

Raptors on the Move (Grades 3-4)
45 minutes; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

“You can’t always get what you want”- especially during a Minnesota winter! Some bird must fly south to get what they need, and then return in the spring because their summer needs are different than their winter needs. Flying long distances takes lots of energy, what do birds use to help them use natural conditions to save energy? And how does a big lake like Superior affect bird movement? We’ll explore all of these questions and find out firsthand why Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is a great place to see lots of birds in the fall.

Mystery Bird Hike (Grades 4-12)
45 min. to 1 hr; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

Solve the mystery! Follow the trail at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve in search of clues to help identify your mystery bird. Students will travel in small groups with a chaperone to find the clues needed to determine their mystery bird. After all the clues are collected, teams return to the start and use Field Guides and additional tools to solve the mystery of their bird’s identity. This activity is a great extension of a class, or if two classes from the same school come together, one group can do Mystery Bird, while the other class is in a program, and then switch.

Experience Hawk Ridge (Grade 5 – College)
90 minutes; Fee: $6 per student $120 minimum fee

Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is perched above Duluth and Lake Superior offering a stunning overlook and high quality observation of migrating birds. The Experience Hawk Ridge program will investigate raptor adaptations, raptor research, and help students understand what makes Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve an excellent location to watch and experience migration. Learn tricks on how to identify birds in flight and then try your hand at counting migrating birds in a friendly competition with our Hawk Ridge counters. This program is specifically designed to address 5th grade Minnesota State Standards regarding adaptations, research and science.

Eyes on the Skies – An Overview of Migration and Raptors (Grades 6-12)
45 minutes; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

Hawk Ridge has a fascinating history, from gunner’s lair to birdwatcher’s paradise. Over 1,000 raptors per day fly past Hawk Ridge each fall for many reasons, one of which is Lake Superior. These migrating raptors take advantage of the geology of the North Shore to migrate. Students can see and touch artifacts such as wings and talons. Binoculars are provided.

Goshawk Hotspot (Grades 6-12)
30 – 45 minutes; Fee: $5 per student $100 minimum fee

Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is one of the best places in the US, if not the world to see Northern Goshawks during migration. But what makes this place so special? Northern Goshawks live in the boreal forest and their primary prey are Snowshoe Hare and Ruffed Grouse. These animals follow approximate 10 year cycles, and some years are not abundant causing the Goshawks to head south looking for food. This program highlights some of the strong migrations of the past here at Hawk Ridge, investigates Northern Goshawk biology and natural history, and explores how cycles observed in the past may be changing.

Summit Ledges Hike (Appropriate for grades 4 – Adult) Not available in Spring
90 min. to 2 hours; Fee: $6 per student $120 minimum fee

Why do experienced hawk watchers at Hawk Ridge head for Summit Ledges? What happens there that doesn’t happen at the main overlook? Want to find out? Join us for a guided hike through fascinating geology, and unique forest types to Summit Ledges where the whole valley opens up and birds are often visible flying right over your head. Why is the North Shore of Lake Superior such a great route for hawk migration? What does geology have to do with it all? Only one way to answer all these questions- take a Summit Ledges hike!

Image Credits: Brent Alan Kauth