Migrating Birds of Prey in Spring

Every spring and fall tens of thousands of birds of prey migrate along fixed routes that they have used for centuries. In the spring, they migrate along the Niagara Escarpment before heading north searching for nesting territory. Just outside of Grimsby, Ontario, there is a park situated on the escarpment called Beamer Point Conservation Ontario, home to the Beamer Point hawkwatch.

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Every year from March 1st thru the end of May, the site is monitored at least 8h per day and an official counter counts the number and different species of hawk that migrate past. How many hawks? Over the course of the watch, tens of thousands of birds move through and its uncommon to see a 1,000 or more hawks in a day in April when the broadwing hawks start moving.

 I’ve been attending the hawk watch for more than 15 years and have spent many pleasant and not so pleasant spring days waiting for hawks to fly overhead. I’ve also established casual friendships with the people who frequent the hawk watch on a regular basis and its always a reunion in the spring as we meet again after a long winter.

There are 15 species of raptors that are commonly seen in Ontario and on Sat Mar 15, I went out for the 1st time and managed to see 10 species in about 4 hours. That’s considered a good day in terms of species.

One of my favourite pastimes is photographing hawks on the wing and Beamer is an excellent place to do it. The recent photos I took:

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Much better efforts from previous outings:

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If you are interested in spectacles, come out to Beamer when the wind has a southerly component and see what all the excitment is about. To check the weather in the area, click on this link.

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