Programs & Field Trips

Celebrate 50 years with HMANA in Duluth, Nov 7-10 2024

HMANA's largest celebration ever! Join us as we welcome some
of the top names in Raptor migration, Research and Education

Join us in celebrating the past 50 years, the people, the places, and the raptors while we also look to the future of the next 50 years, what it might bring and what we hope for.  We are calling on all hawk watchers, raptor enthusiasts, raptor biologists, and HMANA friends across the Americas to join us in person or virtually for this momentous conference and anniversary celebration!

We have an exciting lineup of speakers, symposiums, and poster sessions – all focused on honoring the history of hawkwatching in the Americas, current raptor research efforts, new looks at raptor education and discussions on the future of hawkwatching, hawk migration study, and how best to address the challenges we face.

Poster Sessions

Friday evening, November 8th: HMANA will hold a special Poster Session and Mixer where you can view posters, speak to researchers and students about their research and enjoy appetizers while mingling with other raptor enthusiasts.

CALL FOR POSTERS: If you’d like to present a poster on your current raptor research at the HMANA conference, abstract submissions (300 words of less) can be emailed to Julie Brown, by June 1, 2024.  Please designate a Professional or Student (graduate or undergraduate).

Special Symposiums on Featuring Important Ongoing Programs

Winter Raptor Survey Symposium: Join us Participants will discover what is being learned about Rough-legged Hawk telemetry from Neil Paprocki as well as efforts to track Dark-morph Red-tailed Hawks in the Great Lakes by Nick Alioto.

Raptor education Symposium: We are inviting educators from around the continent to present and share their work. We will also hear from Michigan educators about in the exciting Michigan Raptor Migration Teaching Network, which supports K-12 educators in experiencing and sharing the science of raptor migration with Michigan students.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Panel Discussion: HMANA’s IDEA committee will host a panel discussion addressing questions surrounding the future of hawkwatching regarding more inclusion, equitable measures all of us can put in place to improve the enjoyment of hawkwatching and how we can make our migration sites the most accessible to all.

Full Program Schedule (Subject to Change)


Vendor Set-up

Registration and Check – In Open

Sax-Zim Field Trip (pre-registration needed)

All day – Hawk-watching at Hawk Ridge (van rides from hotel)

2:00 – 5:00 pm HMANA Board Meeting – members welcome

6:30 – 9 pm Conference Welcome Mixer – Vendors and Sponsor tables open

7- 10 pm Owl Banding Field Trips (two groups, 1.5hrs, pre-registration req.)

Friday – Celebrating the Past

8:00 am Welcome and Announcements

Keynote Addresses

8:30 am Peter Dunne: The Distance

9:30 am Clay Sutton: NORTHWEST WINDS – Shifting Winds; Winds of Change or Winds of Hope?

10:30 am Break

Invited Talks: Celebrating 50 Years of Migration Discovery and Hawkwatching

10:45 am Gerry Niemi, 52 Years and Counting! Hawk Ridge Raptor Research and Education.

11:30 am Steve Hoffman, 45 Years of Counting Migrating Raptors in Western North America: What Have We Learned?

12:15 pm Allen Fish,  How Weird is California? – Highlights from 40 years of Raptor Biology & Community Science on the Pacific Flyway

12:45 to 2:00 pm Lunch on your own (pre-ordered box lunches available)

2:00 pm Dave Oleyar, Assessing Population Status of North American Diurnal Raptors Using Migration and Winter Counts

2:45 pm Rob Domenech, Telemetry Studies of Golden Eagle Migration in West

3:30 pm David Barber, Movement Ecology of Turkey Vultures in North America

4:15 pm Steve Kolbe, Using Common Nighthawk Migration Counts to Monitor Global Population Trends

5:00 pm Dinner on your own

7:15 pm Poster Session and Mixer in Vendor – Sponsor room

Snacks provided – Cash bar

7- 10 pm Owl Banding Field Trips (two groups, 1.5hrs, pre-registration req.)

Saturday:  Flying Into the Future

Invited Talks:  Current Status and Threats to Raptors & Migration

8:00 am Dave Brandes, Winds of Change in the Northeast US:  Implications to Fall Migration Counts

8:45 am Esther Vallejo Santamaría, Threats of raptor shooting to raptor migration in Colombia

9:30 am Matt Etterson, The history and future of raptor migration stations for monitoring environmental contaminants & impacts on raptors

10:15 am Vince Slabe, Lead exposure of raptors in North America: State of the science and examples of successful mitigation programs

11:00 am Attracting new hawkwatchers & welcoming IDEA participants: a discussion, featuring Rob Spaul, Board Vice-Chair and others

12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch on your own, box lunch pre-ordered available.

Special Workshops:

1:00 -3:00 pm  Engaging with Community: Stories from Watching the Skies Together :  featuring Kara and Josh Haas, Jamie Dawson, Margie Mendez and teachers from the Michigan Raptor Migration Teaching Network


3:15-5:15 pm  Raptors in Winter

Vic Berardi, Winter Raptors and HMANA Surveys

Nick Alioto, Migratory routes and wintering ecology of Red-tailed Hawks that migrate through Michigan

Neil Paprocki, Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) migration, wintering, and population ecology

Vendor – Sponsor exhibits tear-down

6:30 pm HMANA 50th Anniversary Banquet & Celebration

7- 11 pm Owl Banding Field Trips (two groups, 1.5hrs, pre-registration req.)

7:30 pm Awards and Reflections/Photographs

8:00 pm Banquet Keynote:  Ernesto Ruelas, Raptor migration in the Neotropics: three decades of discovery

9:00 pm Conference Closing – Cash Bar & Mixer – Saw-whet Owl Banding


6:00 am – 12:00 pm  Sax Zim Morning Field Trip (pre-registration req.)

7:00 – 11:00 am  Arctic Riviera/Wisconsin Point Field Trip (pre-registration req.)

7:00 am – 1:00 pm  In Search of Northern Specialties Field Trip (pre-registration req.)

12:30 pm – 6:00 pm  Sax Zim Afternoon Field Trip (pre-registration req.)

Full Program Schedule (Subject to Change)

Hawkwatching at Hawk Ridge Overlook

Join us on a visit to the renowned Hawk Ridge overlook along the West Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway – the site of the HRBO fall migration count! Accessible by a well maintained roadway, we will be able to park directly at the overlook area and hawkwatch for several hours. During this time of the fall, there are still often large pushes of late season raptor migrants, such as Golden and Bald Eagles, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks, and Northern Goshawks – as well as the possibility of non-raptor bird species (e.g., Bohemian Waxwings, a mix of winter finches (crossbills, redpolls, siskins – all depending on the year). Additionally, Hawk Ridge naturalists will be onsite to offer count interpretation and provide background and history of the fall migration count taking place along the Ridge over the past 50 years. Dress appropriately as early November conditions can be quite cold and harsh, especially during northwest winds; however, those winds also tend to promote some of the largest late-season raptor flights!

Free shuttles will be offered Thursday-Sunday every 90 minutes

Education at Hawk Ridge Tour

One Education focused tour will happen each day- Thursday-Sunday

Hawk Ridge offers an assortment of educational outreach opportunities both at the main overlook, numerous other locations, and internationally. Join one of our education staff for a tour focusing on the education outreach efforts at Hawk Ridge. We’ll visit some of the locations we use during the fall migration season, introduce you to regular educational features at the Overlook, like the Raptor Demonstrations, Kid’s Cart, the program area, and our approved plans for facilities expansion which we are in the beginning phases of fundraising to accomplish these priorities to mention a few of the tour possibilities. Plan for at least half an hour with an education staff person- then enjoy the rest of your visit to the Overlook with watching who’s flying overhead and tracking with our count and records board. The sessions will be informal with plenty of opportunities for questions. 

No charge for the tour, but donations to our education scholarship fund are always welcome! 

Visits to the Hawk Ridge Owl Banding Station

Hawk Ridge annually bands an average of 1,200+ owls each fall migration! We will offer small group owl visits to our Owl Banding station. Depending on how the season is progressing, there may still be a few Northern Saw-whets around as well as some Long-eared Owls. Join us to hear more about our Owl banding efforts and research, the owls of the area, who’s migrating, and who’s sticking around.  Group sizes will be limited to 12 and visits to the station will be about an hour and a half. The pathway back to the banding station is level and wood chipped, but there still can be a few rocks and roots to be aware of, the flashlight on your cell phone is sufficient to help you walk in, but dress warmly (as it is often fairly chilly in early November!). If you have a portable chair, it’s recommended that you  bring it; otherwise, there are varying stumps and logs to perch on as well back at the station. Transportation will be provided leaving from the Holiday Inn. 

Pre-registration required

Cost: $35 per person, $25 for students, HMANA, and Hawk Ridge Members

Trip leaders: Margie Menzies and Sara DePew

Thurs: 11/7: 7:00-8:20pm and 8:30-9:50pm 

Fri: 11/8: 7:00-8:20pm and 8:30-9:50pm 

Sat: 11/9: 7:00-8:20pm and 9:00-10:20pm

In Search of Northern Specialities!

Northern Minnesota is renowned for a rich variety of diverse boreal forest bird species. On this expedition along the north shore of Lake Superior, we will travel a stretch between Duluth and Two Harbors – a distance of approximately 30 miles. A morning stop at Stoney Point along the shore could  provide an excellent opportunity to take in visual migration of both raptor and non-raptor bird species, while scans of the lake along this entire route could also yield an interesting mix of migratory waterbirds, from loons to ducks.This trip may also include short jaunts inland, to more forested areas, depending on where certain boreal species of interest have been recently reported. Possible boreal species of interest could include: Bohemian Waxwings, Black-backed Woodpeckers, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, Northern Shrike, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Townsend’s Solitaire, Spruce Grouse, and others. This trip will be for half day and is limited to 12 participants

Trip cost: $60 per person, $50 for students, HMANA, and Hawk Ridge Members

Pre-registration required

Trip Leader: Jim Lind

Time: Sunday 11/10 – 7am-1pm

The Arctic Riviera/Wisconsin Point

Formed by the nearby St. Louis River, the combined Wisconsin and Minnesota Points are a ten mile natural sandpit (the longest freshwater bay sandbar in the world!) separated by Superior Entry – the only natural opening through it. This unique topography provides both stopover and wintering habitat for a diverse array of migrant birds, including migratory Arctic-dwelling waterbirds and large mixed gull flocks later into the fall. For this trip, we will begin with a brief drive across the bridge from Duluth into Superior, Wisconsin and work our way towards the northern end of Wisconsin Point. Over the morning, there will be several opportunities to stop and scan Lake Superior, Duluth Harbor, and Allouez Bay while enjoying scenic vistas of the Duluth cityscape and historic Wisconsin Point Lighthouse (built in 1913). This will likely be a mix of birding from a parked vehicle on paved roadway, as well as opportunities to park and walk on well established boardwalks along the lakeside of the Point, providing access to scan the waters throughout the entire three mile stretch. At this time of year, there are exciting opportunities to search for high-latitude visitors finding refuge on the bays and lake that could include: a mix of loon species (Red-throated, Pacific, and Yellow-billed), several scoter (White-winged, Surf, and Black) and duck (Harlequin, Long-tailed, Common Eider) species, as well as scanning large gull flocks for other interesting species (Glaucous, Iceland, Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Black-legged Kittiwake) that could potentially be mixed in. With diverse forested habitat along the Point as well, there will be opportunities to search for other interesting late fall migrants that may still be lingering.This trip will be limited to 12 participants and run for four hours.

Pre-registration required

Trip cost: $60 per person, $50 for students, HMANA, and Hawk Ridge Members

Trip Leader: Steve Kolbe

Time: Sunday 11/10 – 7-11am

Sax-Zim Bog

Sax-Zim Bog is a world-renowned birding location, covering a vast area over 147,000 acres, located approximately 50 miles northwest of Duluth. This ecosystem contains a patchwork of habitats that supports a great diversity of breeding birds in the summer and is important wintering and stopover habitat during migration. Fall in the Sax-Zim Bog showcases the arrival of northern species, like Northern Shrike, Snow Bunting, Rough-legged Hawk, and Common Redpolls, along with the ever present Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Boreal Chickadee. This field trip will cover a lot of ground during the day, with much of the birding done from along boardwalks or the side of the road. Other resident species like Canada Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Evening Grosbeak, and Ruffed Grouse are likely, with wintering species like Red and White-winged Crossbill, Pine Grosbeak, and other migrating raptors possible at this time. 

Pre-registration required

Thursday trip leader: Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Head Naturalist Clinton Dexter-Nienhaus (1:00-7:00pm)

Two Sunday trips: (6:00am-12:00pm and 12:30-6:00pm) Trip leaders TBD

Trip cost: $75 per person, $65 for students, HMANA, and Hawk Ridge Members.

Interested in Donating to This Effort?

If you would like to further HMANA’s mission and assist financially to make this important conference and celebration a success, please consider making a one-time donation.

Interested in Becoming a Sponsor?

Put your brand and products in-front of our conservation-minded raptor watchers and birders to gain exposure as well as support a network of migration sites across North America and beyond.


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