Birds of prey by the thousands

Birds of prey migrate by the thousands past Ontario Parks along the north shore of Lake Erie every fall.

Mornings are best to view this fall phenomenon – just after dawn until mid-morning and especially after a cold front has rolled through. That’s when park visitors gather on park beaches or in beach parking lots to watch the fall migration.  Some days, the birds pass by at tree-top level. Other days, they are high in the sky. On a good day and with a pair of binoculars, you’ll see birds everywhere.
Red-tailed hawk spotted in Port Burwell (Photo Credit: Cliff Dickinson)

One of the best Ontario Parks to view birds of prey in fall is Port Burwell Provincial Park, an hour south of London.  Broad-winged hawks pass through in mid-September but the month of October produces the highest number of species on any given day. Sightings of ten or more species of hawks a day are not unusual. The number of peregrine falcons peaks in early October, turkey vultures in mid-month and red-shouldered hawks in late October. The massive red-tailed hawk migration occurs later, in early November, when thousands fly over daily.  Bald eagles can be seen any time during the fall migration period from August to December.   They have produced an excellent summary of tips to help with viewing fall migration.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park naturalist, David Bree has more fall bird watching tips in his Park Blog post.  And the Ontario Field Ornithologists offer an email alert system for bird sightings In fall it can be especially interesting and awe-inspiring with reports of the vast numbers of migrants passing through Ontario. Sign up or just go online  to  read the many postings.