As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to drop, birds and humans alike are preparing for winter. While I unpack my winter coat and sweaters to settle into the cold weather, many birds are planning their trips farther south. Raptor migration is already well underway at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth. Migrating raptors funnel through Duluth because most choose to follow the lake shore on their way south rather than fly across Lake Superior. On a good day, observers at Hawk Ridge can see thousands of birds! So far this month 43,000 raptors of 13 different species have passed through Duluth. Broad-winged hawks come through in the greatest numbers, comprising about half of all raptors counted.
Our birds at the museum are preparing for winter, too. Great horned owls and red-tailed hawks are built to cope with cold temperatures, but American kestrels normally need to migrate. Aldo doesn’t have that option, so he has a special hutch built with a heater. We’ll keep a close eye on weather forecasts and turn on his heat when temperatures dip into the 20’s.