For Photographers

Photographic opportunities abound at the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. Click here for peak migration times of each species.


Telephoto lenses (400mm or 12x minimum) are required for anything more than “dot shots” of most migrating birds. Occasionally the weather is just right, however, and even the larger birds float past the ridge at eye level.


Take a tip from our regulars and leave your tripod in the car. Photographing raptors on the wing takes agility and speed in all directions, including directly overhead and even behind you.


The ridge runs parallel to the shoreline of Lake Superior, which runs in a northeast/southwest direction. Birds approach generally from the northeast. Lighting is typically best from mid to late afternoon, although great lighting is possible at any time of the day.


Be prepared to spend a bit of time to get that perfect shot.


On northwest wind days, Summit Ledges is your best bet–the birds often fly up that ridge at eye level. The main overlook has a nice updraft on east wind days, plus has an owl decoy placed to lure raptors in low.


Staff will be displaying birds throughout most days (during September & October only).

Please consider donating photos to Hawk Ridge

We are looking for great photos of all kinds…birds, people, trees, whatever. We do not retain exclusive rights, always give photographic credit and it’s a great way to get your work noticed by thousands of people!

Email your photos (or send a CD) and letter of release to:
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 3006
Duluth, MN 55803-3006

Download a letter of release.

Image Credits: Debbie Waters