You may be happy observing birds out a window or in your own neighborhood, but once in a while it's fun to head out to another location.
This time of year, I would recommend Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, a popular birding spot in Duluth. Bring your binoculars and a bird identification book. You will find yourself surrounded by other friendly birders.
Hawk Ridge runs along the crest of the hill at the east end of Duluth, about 800 feet above Lake Superior. It is one of the best places to observe fall hawk migrations. Hawks, eagles and other birds of prey moving south from Canada concentrate here because they're reluctant to cross a body of water as large as Lake Superior, and they use the updrafts along the rocky shoreline on their way south. The North Shore acts as a funnel, and the ridge above Duluth is the spout.
Hawk-watching begins in mid-August and continues into December, with the biggest flights usually happening about now. The best time to observe the birds is roughly from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but there is almost no migration on days with an easterly wind or precipitation. Clear skies and a northwest wind provide the best conditions. On one mid-September day, only 50 hawks were seen. The next day, after skies had cleared, over 19,000 birds were counted. Fourteen species, including broad-winged hawks, turkey vultures, bald eagles, ospreys and red-tailed hawks, are regular migrants over Hawk Ridge.
Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.