Festival of Hawks coming to Holiday Beach Sept. 10-11 and Sept. 17-18


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 (ERCA), in partnership with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), will host the 2016 Festival of Hawks Sept. 10-11 and Sept. 17-18.

According to ERCA, the festival 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 able to witness the live raptor display of Kingsport Environmental, a local organization which rescues and rehabilitates raptors and promotes falconry through education programs.

HBMO experts on stage as the crowd looks on at Hawk Fest 2015. (Special to the RTT)

HBMO experts on stage as the crowd looks on at Hawk Fest 2015. (Special to the RTT)

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,” explained ERCA’s director of community outreach services Danielle Stuebing. “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.”

The Festival of Hawks runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days of both weekends. 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 Sept. 1 and made available at www.erca.org/birding.

The best raptor viewing time is from 9 a.m. until noon when the hawks fly low.

The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is located on County Road 50, on Lake Erie near Malden Centre.

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!

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