Amherstburg – 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 the amazing sight, Essex Region Conservation, in partnership with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), will host the 2019 Festival of Hawks. The festival, which takes place over the weekends of September 14-15 and 21-22, 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 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 that rescues and rehabilitates raptors and promotes falconry through education programs.
Free educational programs will complement the ongoing banding and live hawk display throughout both weekends. Local experts will be on-site to teach on a wide range of birding and nature-related topics. These programs include:
- HBMO’s Bob Pettit will be on hand to provide expertise on identifying hawks in flight.
- Ted Kloske, of Henry’s Windsor, and Alex Denonville, will help budding photographers get their best nature shot.
- Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada will provide insight into collecting data in important birding areas.
- HBMO’s Jeremy Hatt will share his tips and tricks on using mobile applications like iNaturalist
- ERCA’s Gina Pannunzio will host an interactive workshop focusing on the mystery of one of our local iconic species, the Monarch Butterfly.
“Holiday Beach Conservation Area has been identified as one of the 10 best sites in all of North America to experience the raptor migration,” notes Danielle Breault Stuebing, ERCA’s Director of Communications & Outreach. “Whether an expert birder or nature-loving family, there’s something for everyone at the annual Festival of Hawks.”
The Festival runs from 9am to 3pm on September 14-15 and 21-22. 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 is available at https://essexregionconservation.ca/education-and-events/festival-of-hawks/ .
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.
Due to high water levels in Lake Erie and Big Creek affecting the area surrounding the Hawk Tower, vendors and exhibits will be located in the main park area at Holiday Beach. Visitors may still access the hawk tower but are advised to wear appropriate footwear for wet conditions.
For more than four decades, Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.
Communications & Event Specialist
519-776-5209 ext. 267