Photographer's Note

Kestrel Portrait
Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve & Bird Observatory
Duluth, Minnesota.

Every autumn Hawk Ridge becomes a major attraction in Duluth. Tens of thousands of migrating raptors move down the coast of the Great Lake Superior and past the observatory.

I spent a couple of mornings at Hawk Ridge this season. This is the best of my shots .. thanks to the fact that this poor little gal had been captured at the banding station .. after banding the birds are brought out and shown to the crowd before release .. if you wish to donate an "adoption fee" you can have the opportunity to release the bird yourself.

The colorful American Kestrel is the most common falcon in North America. Kestrel's are well known for their "hover hunting" behavior.

The migration past Hawk Ridge runs from mid August through November and is most active during mid September. Raptor watching is best in mid day (unlike most wildlife watching). The ridge is staffed every day during September and October.

During migration, weather and geography cause these birds to concentrate into groups that number in the thousands. These large groups are referred to as “kettles.”

The workshop image is a kettle of Broad Winged Hawks (pretty large birds) riding the thermals over the ridge .. an incredible and common site at Hawk Ridge in the fall.

the total count at the observatory from this fall is stunning:
2 Red Shouldered Hawk
2 Mississippi Kite
3 Short Eared Owl
6 Swainson's Hawk
59 Cooper's Hawk
65 Peregrine Falcon
136 Merlin Falcon
169 Golden Eagle
184 Northern Goshawk
238 Osprey
344 Northern Harrier
534 Rough Legged Hawk
906 Turkey Vultures
1162 American Kestrel Falcon
3238 Bald Eagles
6044 Red Tailed Hawk
12608 Sharp Shinned Hawk
35781 Broad Wing Hawk

more information on the Hawk Ridge Observatory:

other bird facts on this post are from:

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Additional Photos by John McLaird (jmcl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2514 W: 131 N: 4070] (14535)
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