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Raptors Take Flight Through Midwestern Skies


As colder weather moves into the Northwoods, most birds are moving out.  The fall migration is well underway for raptors and many other species of birds. 

At the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, researchers have counted tens of thousands of raptorspassing overhead in the past several weeks. 

Hawk Ridge Executive Director Janelle Long says though many smaller raptor species like broad-winged hawks have mostly finished their migration through the Upper Midwest, others are still passing through. 

“And as we get further into October is when we start seeing many of the larger species of raptors. Northern goshawks, red tailed hawks, bald eagles, golden eagles – those are some of the fantastic species of birds that we’re able to observe.”

The observatory counted almost 40,000  raptors last month, and about another seven thousand so far in October. 

Hawk Ridge also observes between two and three hundred thousand birds of non raptor species during the season. 

Long says the past few days have seen large numbers of both raptors and other birds like robins and sparrows following last weekend’s cold weather front. 

“So a lot of times when we have rainy weather, the birds will hunker down. But as soon as those conditions are right, once that storm lets up, we’ll typically see a big push in movement of birds.”

Long says birds are coming from as far away as the Arctic, and passing through the Midwest on their way to warmer zones. 

The fall migration drops off at the end of October, with relatively few birds coming through next month. 

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