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“Migratory bird watching heaven”

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
Ranked #30 of 94 things to do in Duluth
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level 6 Contributor
158 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Migratory bird watching heaven”
Reviewed November 3, 2013

This is a great place to watch raptors and other birds as they make their migration south. At times there are interpretive guides. The view is worth the drive up there any time of year.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank NebraskaPineknot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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82 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Hammondsport, NY
Level 6 Contributor
101 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“worth the time to stop”
Reviewed October 28, 2013

Local friends took me here for a visit while in Duluth. It was a chilly day, but so glad we stopped. Several eagles were soaring around and we were lucky enough to be there as they were releasing a goshawk. I got some great photos, and learned a lot about the bird, as they told you much before the release. If you are local, you can get on a list to release a bird- what an opportunity that would be! The fee for that is reasonable and goes as a donation to the observatory. Loved the views from the hill. Id stop again if in the area.

Visited October 2013
3 Thank manormeow2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“One of the best attractions in Duluth”
Reviewed October 20, 2013

We visited on a beautiful October day. They say on their website that you'll tend to see the most birds between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and that lined up with our experience. Things you should know if you're considering a trip:

1. If you just want to go to the overlook to look at the migrating birds, that's free. Park along the road; you may need to walk a fairly long distance to get to the overlook itself (although if someone needs to be dropped off, you can drive straight through it; it's along a public road.) They have loaner binoculars that you can check out with a deposit of something like your driver's license or car keys, and there are volunteer naturalists who can help you spot things and tell you what you're probably seeing.

2. Hawk Ridge is a banding station and they band both songbirds and raptors. While you're at the overlook, you're likely to see a demonstration of banding with a songbird. They also have a "banding station" to band interested children with numbered bracelets. That's also free.

3. For an extra fee, you can "adopt" a songbird or (when available) a raptor. They'll show you how to safely hold the bird, take your picture with it, and then you get to release the bird. Common songbirds are very inexpensive ($20); hawks are a lot more ($100, and with a very large bird they might not allow a child to do the release.)

4. Also for an additional fee ($15/person, this year) you can go on a tour of the banding station and watch them catching (or at least trying to catch) hawks and eagles. (You might or might not see anything exciting. When we went on our tour, they had just caught a beautiful goshawk and we got to see the bird up close, held by the bander).

5. Finally, they have a Saturday night owl program, which we also went to ($5/person). They have a naturalist do a presentation about owls, but they also catch and band owls, and they'll bring any owls they catch from the banding station over to the presentation area and you can see them up close and (sometimes) take pictures. They will also let you adopt and release owls. On the night we went, we got to see (tiny, adorable) saw-whet owls; a long-eared owl; and a barred owl. (We were there on a particular good night.) One note is that the owl program was COLD. Dress as warmly as you can and don't feel like you're overdoing it if you put on all your smartwool. It was about 34 degrees the night we were there and we were freezing, despite heavy winter coats. It was worth it, though.

6. Even if you have no luck with bird sightings, the view of Duluth and the lake is gorgeous.

Go on a pleasant day -- on a rainy, foggy day you're unlikely to see much, and since there's no real shelter up there it'll just be incredibly unpleasant. (There's a tiny little mobile shack they use to sell t-shirts.)

On the day we were there, in mid-October, they saw about 500 birds. At the height of the hawk migration in September they'll sometimes see 5,000 birds in a day. You really don't have to be an expert birder to find a visit to Hawk Ridge really worthwhile.

Visited October 2013
5 Thank NMpls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Level 6 Contributor
198 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
“A very foggy day”
Reviewed October 2, 2013

Wish the weather had been better. The day before I went it was the perfect day with winds coming from the west. A lot of birds were spotted. The day I went it was foggy and the winds were from the east. I managed to see a hawk but the fog was to thick to identify it.

Visited September 2013
Thank Marilyn B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woodbury, Minnesota
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Much to do and see”
Reviewed September 21, 2013

We came to Hawk Ridge at the perfect time. There were bird banding demonstrations were abel to see several hawks released back into their actual habitat. There were many experts there available to answer questions. September is the best time to visit the Observatory.

Visited September 2013
1 Thank Peter M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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