Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Watch birds in an up close and personal environment within the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is the perfect attraction for people who want to explore the breathtakingly beautiful nature and ecosystems of Duluth.

»History

History

Prior to 1950, local gunners of the Duluth community used raptors as a target for practice. The local gunners were the only people who had the opportunity to see the raptors in their natural environment. Around 1950, the Duluth Audubon Society (which was then called the Duluth Bird Club) publicized the actions of the local gunners and brought awareness to the ruthless and illegal shootings of birds. Within a year, the city of Duluth established a prohibition against shooting raptors. This prohibition was rightfully and strongly enforced.

In 1951 the first official hawk watch occurred. The observation of bird migration quickly became popularized, and people began watching migration patterns within September, August, and November. One of the most popular areas to view bird migration patterns, and birds in their natural habitat, was at the highest part of the Ridge.

In order to secure the Ridge as an official spot to view birds, the Duluth Audubon Society convinced the Minnesota Chapter of the Nature Conservancy as well as the city of Duluth to donate funds to purchase the Ridge in 1972. One year later, the city of Duluth purchased an additional 250 acres next to the Ridge to provide the Duluth Audubon Society with an official Nature Reserve. With a total of 365 acres, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory was created.

Throughout the 1970s, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory created various initiatives and additions to increase their significance and involvement within the bird observatory community. In 1974 the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory created their official naturalist program, and five years later Friends of Hawk Ridge was created to increase education and research opportunities at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

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»Attractions

Attractions

Throughout the year visitors come from across the country, and even across the world, to explore the high-quality and unique opportunities at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

Unlike other bird observatories, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory does not have an official building on-site. Instead, all of the facilities at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory are outdoors. There are two main areas in the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory: the Nature Reserve and the Skyline Parkway.

The Nature Reserve is a general area for visitors to explore the overall beauty and significance of the nature within Duluth and the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. In order to visit the Nature Reserve, visitors can either hike or drive along the main road. The Nature Reserve is open all year.

The Skyline Parkway is the primary attraction at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. The Skyline Parkway is a hiking trail that takes visitors to the highest point on the Ridge, which is the main overlook at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. From this overlook, visitors will examine the birds in the most up close and personal way that is possible. Unlike the Nature Reserve, the Skyline Parkway is only open for a select amount of time. Typically, the Skyline Parkway is open from late spring to late fall. If you want to see a maximum amount of hawks, visit the Skyline Parkway during peak migration times, which are from September to October.

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»Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities

Education is extremely important at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. There are different educational opportunities for different age groups.

Students in elementary through high school have the opportunity of visiting the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory on a school field trip. Although each grade level has different programs to choose from, every school tour includes an outdoor lecture and a live bird demonstration. The programs at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory correspond with current curriculum being taught within schools.

The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory also offers a variety of programs for students in college. Most of the programs for college students are geared towards students who are pursuing a career within biology or environmental studies. College students have the option of visiting the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory with their class, or interning at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

If large groups are interested in visiting the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, but the members of the group aren’t students, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory has special programs for them. Common groups that visit the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory include Boy and Girl Scouts, retirement groups, and Road Scholars.

For more information about any of the above educational opportunities, as well as other information about the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, check out the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory’s website.

Back to: Best Things to do in Duluth

Duluth Public Schools, E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth, MN 55804, website, Phone: 218-730-4300

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Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, Minnesota


  • History, Photo Credit: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
  • Attractions, Photo Credit: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
  • Educational Opportunities, Photo Credit: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
  • Cover Photo Credit: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory