Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hawk Festival at Holiday Beach (Sep 22-23, 2012)

This year, for Hawk Festival, we decided to camp at Holiday Beach as my husband was also running the Amherstburg Marathon that weekend.  It saved us lots of trips from the City to Amherstburg over the weekend!

If you haven`t been to Hawk Festival (or Festival of Hawks...I think that is the proper name), I will give you an idea of what it is all about.  There is a hawk observation tower at the marsh/creek where experienced hawk counters are posted for the duration of the raptor migration season.  They keep track of how many of each specie pass over each day.  They are there for the festival and call out the migrating species as they pass over.  Also, song birds and raptors are banded at Holiday Beach by volunteer licensed bird banders from the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO).  They regularly bring birds they have banded down to the hawk tower to show the birds up close to those around.  As a fundraiser, they allow those present to "adopt" the birds.  Adoption gives you the great pleasure of having the bird placed in your hand for release and you get a certificate of adoption that lists its band number and specie.  Should that bird be recaptured by another banding station, you will receive an update about where the bird was found.  Here are a couple pictures of birds I adopted this year:

A Black-throated Green Warbler,

and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird,

She sat in my hand for about 10 seconds before taking off...can you say heaven on earth?
There are also display booths set up around the area surrounding the hawk tower.  Pelee Wings brings out a selection of books, binoculars and other birding and naturalist wares.  HBMO has an information booth set up and this year there was a raffle for binoculars and gorgeous prints.  Local bird and nature photographer, Gerald Peltier had a booth with prints available of several different species.  The Canadian Peregrine Foundation was also there with some raptors on display and selling sweet corn...
A close up of a Great Horned Owl brought by the CPF.

Gwen of the CPF and the Cooper she you think was in heaven too?
Since we camped there, I got to do a little birding early Sunday morning, after dropping Mike off and seeing him start the marathon (I went back with my daughter and her friend to see him finish). On the boardwalk near the campground there were several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds enjoying the Jewel Weed along the boardwalk...
I learned this is a hatch-year Male..see the couple small red feathers?
There was also a Northern Harrier cruising the creek...

Tell-tale white rump patch makes for a quick ID.

Can you see the owl-like facial disks?  
I had such a good time this weekend!  Because we spent a lot of time down at the bridge watching the peregrines as volunteers with the CPF, it felt a bit like a family reunion.  Birders are such a warm and welcoming bunch....and they love to talk about birds!

If you are interested in getting up close and personal with birds, contact Holiday Beach Migration Observatory.  I am so excited to be volunteering with them with the plan of becoming a licensed bird bander!  This is something I have been wanting to do for a couple years and the connections made at the Hawk Festival have allowed this to happen...I did my first shift last Saturday :)


  1. Great shots and sounds like an excellent place to go. I wish that location and Pelee were closer for me to visit. Someday I hope to do the Beamer's hawk which which is near Beamsville/Grimsby. It doesn't have the same numbers but still quite good.
    I see Congrats are in order on your Life Bird list too!! It looks like you've pulled ahead again! ;)

    1. It is amazing how many hawks pass over Holiday Beach! If you ever get the chance to go to the Hawk Festival, it is well worth it. If your family camps, there is a campground there which makes it more affordable then staying in a hotel, and there is a nice trail between the campground and hawk tower. There is also a tenting area much closer to the tower. I am not familiar with many places to bird outside Essex county...

      As for the congrats, thanks :). I did notice you hit 100 a couple weeks before me....great work! This friendly competition is serving to spur me on to get out and enjoy any nice weather we are given :)