Festival of Hawks will have all eyes will be on the skies this September as local birders and nature lovers take in one of North America’s greatest migrations.
These watchers will call the Holiday Beach Conservation Area home as they take in a grand spectacle: tens of thousands of hawks and raptors flying overhead on their annual journey to nesting grounds in the south.
In recognition of this amazing sight, the Essex Region Conservation Authority, in partnership with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), will host the 2016 Festival of Hawks. The festival, which runs the second and third weekends of September, features a range of free educational activities and nature-themed programming.
HBMO experts will be on-site conducting hawk banding and adoptions. Event goers will get up close and personal to a variety of raptors as the experts measure, tag, and then release these birds back into the wild. Visitors will also be in awe at the live raptor display of Kingsport Environmental, a local organization which rescues and rehabilitates raptors and promotes falconry through education programs.
The ongoing banding and live hawk display will be complimented by free programming throughout both weekends. Local experts will be on-site to teach on a wide range of birding and nature-related topics. Some of these programs include:
- HBMO’s Bob Pettit, will share his years of experience on identifying hawks in flights.
- Ted Kloske, of Henry’s Windsor and Maple Grove Studios, and Glenn Gervais, of Southshore Outdoor Photography, will help budding photographers get their best nature shot.
- Blaine Landsborough & Rachel Hasson, of the University of Windsor, will discuss their ongoing research into the night time habits of migrating birds.
- Vic Bernyk, of Native Plants & Trees, will help attendees identify local plant species around Holiday Beach.
- Mike Malone, of Pelee Wings Nature Store, will show how to get the most out of your binoculars and scopes.
- HBMO members Jeremy Bensette & Kory Renaud will share their local knowledge on the best birding in the Essex region and the secrets of Holiday Beach.
“There’s something for everyone at the Festival of Hawks. The programs are designed to be accessible to all knowledge levels, from complete amateurs to expert naturalists. It’s also a great event for families, as we also host an educational Hawk Fest Scavenger Hunt, crafts, and free face painting for kids.” – ERCA’s Director of Community Outreach Services, Danielle Stuebing
The Festival runs from 9am to 3pm on September 10-11 and 17-18. Visitors can also enjoy lunch provided by the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Blue Kestrel Café or HBMO’s BBQ Booth.
All programs are free with the festival admission fee of $15 per vehicle. The final list of programs will be released September 1 and made available online.
The best raptor viewing time is from 9am until noon when the hawks fly low. The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is located on County Road 50, on Lake Erie near Malden Centre approximately 15km southeast of historic Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, a half hour drive from Highway 401 and only 40 minutes from the Ambassador Bridge for those coming from Detroit.
Since 1973, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has served as a community-based organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing the natural resources of the Essex Region. See you on the Hawk Tower!