At Beamer’s hawk watch today

The family visited the Beamer’s Point Hawk Watch in Grimsby today, on the Niagara Escarpment. This is the time of year that raptors start migrating back to Ontario and the north woods, and the Beamer’s Hawk Watch is a great place to see the grand parade repeated again, as it has for hundreds if not thousands of years. The weather was hot and there were birds aplenty.

Turkey vultures, not surprisingly, were the most numerous. We saw one kettle of 52 “TVs” (according to my son) on our way out of the conservation area… one hawk-watcher told us that 400 went through in a matter of about 5 minutes yesterday.

Plenty of smaller sharp-shinned hawks, too, and the occasional red-tail. The tally board also showed northern harriers today, but we didn’t see any. Two bald eagles went through yesterday.

Other feathered attractions included golden-crowned kinglets in the cedars along the escarpment ridge, cardinals, juncos, and one fox sparrow rustling in the leaves that generated a lot of attention.

In The Complete Up North, you’ll read updated entries on turkey vultures, sharp-shinned hawks (“sharpies”), with references to kinglets, red-tail hawks (common along highways), and harriers.

Raptors don’t fly over water, so the Great Lakes region is rimmed with hawk watches where the birds funnel over land to get to their breeding grounds up north. Tim and I visited the Duluth, Minnesota hawk watch a few years ago and were similarly thrilled to see the great birds flying around the end of Lake Superior to get to their summer homes.

Thanks to all the volunteer hawk-watchers and naturalists’ groups who do a great job recording the migrations and also educating the general public. Click here for a link to the Niagara hawk watch group.

—Doug

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