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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Festival of Hawks brings in flocks of birding enthusiasts

by Garrett Fodor

Hundreds of bird enthusiasts and nature lovers flocked to Amherstburg over the weekend in hopes of catching glimpses of some of the hundreds of thousands of migrating birds flying over-head.

  Holiday Beach Conservation Area is the scene for the annual ‘Festival of Hawks’ event, which kicked off September 15 and 16. The event features experts from Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO), who explained that the thousands of birds flying over head are on their way to warm weather areas for the winter. Due to Amherstburg’s strategic location, it has become the spot to watch the birds fly low on their journey.

Event attendees were treated to an up-close -and-personal look at common birds, such as hummingbirds, blue jays, and warblers. They also got to see some hawks as well. Experts are on hand over the course of the event to explain the banding and tracking process, data collection, and unique features and tricks used to identify the different species of birds, along with estimating their age.

  Bob Hall-Brooks is with the HBMO and serves as a bird bander. He said the organization started in 1974 when a group found Holiday Beach as the place to watch the fall migration. The tower was constructed in 1987.

  “This is a real opportunity for our community to share our passion for the birds with other people. I love being able to put birds in the hands of kids and show people birds they can and cannot see in their own backyards,” Hall-Brooks said.

  Hall-Brooks said that the weather plays a huge part in the count of birds at the sight. He added that most birds do not like to fly across the water, which is part of the popularity Holiday Beach has for the routes, as they fly with a northerly wind when possible.

  Hall-Brooks said on Sunday, September 16, in the first hour he was there, he counted a lot blue jays flying overhead.

The annual Festival of Hawks continues on September 22-23 at Holiday Beach.


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