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Hawk Ridge

Minnesota's Birds of Prey

Laura Erickson

Publication Year: 2012

Was Caesar like the eagle because of his aquiline (from aquila, for “eagle” in Latin) nose, or does the eagle seem imperial because of his Caesar-like beak? Does the sharp vision of a “hawk-eyed” observer have any basis in nature? And what the heck is “kettling” to a bird-watcher, or, for that matter, a bird? Raptors have captured the imagination from time immemorial and have an especially rich history in Minnesota. The ancient peoples whose pictographs adorn the rock faces of Lake Superior’s North Shore may well have witnessed the first hawk movements along Lake Superior—the same annual migration that today draws as many as twenty thousand people to Duluth’s Hawk Ridge. These birds, passing through in astounding numbers, are among the hawks and accipiters, buteos and harriers, eagles and ospreys pictured and profiled in detail in this book.

Written by one of Minnesota’s best-known bird authorities, with images by one of the state’s favorite illustrators, Hawk Ridge is as fun as it is informative. It introduces the state’s raptors, from the rare visitor to the most familiar hawk, noting each species’ signature traits—osprey wings, for instance, are crooked to help them catch fish; vultures urinate on their legs to cool themselves—and their nesting, breeding, and migrating habits. Did you know that Sharp-shinned Hawks banded at Hawk Ridge have been found throughout Central America and even into South America, and also, in midwinter, in Wisconsin? Laura Erickson offers a broad perspective (a bird’s-eye view!), making sense of the raptor’s role in the larger ornithological scheme.

With descriptions of various species—and helpful distinctions between species, families, and orders—the book gives readers a clear idea of which raptors might be seen in Minnesota, when, where, and how often. It also includes a hawk migration primer that explains the movements that bring these birds in such awe-inspiring numbers to places like Hawk Ridge. Filled with curious facts and practical information for expert and amateur bird-watcher alike, the book is at once a guide to the hawks of Minnesota and a beautifully illustrated album of the most regal members of the avian kingdom.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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Artist’s Note

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pp. ix-11

The hawk whistling overhead startles me . . . catches me up in the wonder of the freedom and fierceness and tender parenting of these raptors. The color paintings in this book, acrylic on paper, were completed during the winter at an artists’ compound on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Not far away I was able to observe several hawks and vultures up close in a rescue hospital at...

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pp. 1-10

Every autumn, close to twenty thousand people gravitate to a stretch of unimproved road on a hill overlooking Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, to watch thousands of individuals of twenty species of raptors pass by Hawk Ridge. Hawk migration is as...

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pp. 11-16

Vultures are among the most graceful of all flying creatures. Their bodies are surprisingly light for such large birds: a Turkey Vulture’s wingspan is about six feet compared to a Bald Eagle’s seven...

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pp. 17-22

Scientists set the Osprey apart from all other hawks in a family that includes just this species, found on every continent except Antarctica. Ospreys are the fi shing specialists of the raptor world—virtually every scientist studying the species has found that at least 99 percent of an Osprey’s diet is live-caught...

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Harriers and Kites

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pp. 23-32

At Hawk Ridge, the rather common hawk with long, narrow but nonpointed wings and a long, narrow tail is the Northern Harrier, which has a light, buoyant flight often described as butterfly-like. The hawk occasionally confused with it is the Mississippi Kite, which has...

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pp. 33-38

The three American accipiters range in size from the fairly tiny male Sharp-shinned Hawk, about the size of a Blue Jay, to the huge female Northern Goshawk, which can be larger than ravens. Regardless of size, hawk watchers recognize accipiters by their characteristic shape: short, rounded wings and...

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pp. 39-50

The buteos, characterized by long, broad wings and a short, broad tail, compose the largest group of raptors counted at Hawk Ridge. This group includes several commonly seen species, and the annual totals of a single species, the Broad-winged Hawk, are usually much higher than the annual numbers of any other...

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pp. 51-68

Long, narrow, pointed wings and a fairly long, narrow tail uniquely adapt falcons for speed. Ornithologists traditionally placed all the raptors (except, for a time, vultures) in a single order, the Falconiformes. But recent DNA studies have conclusively determined that falcons are not related to the others. Some may find...A

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Visiting Hawk Ridge

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pp. 69-87

As part of the Duluth city park system, Hawk Ridge is “open” from April to November, and there is never a charge to park or to visit. To see migrating hawks, visit Hawk Ridge from...

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pp. 88-90

I would like to thank the many people who did so much to establish Hawk Ridge and to ensure that it will be protected in perpetuity, beginning with Jack Hofslund, who first brought our hawk migration to state and national attention. I am grateful to Karl...

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About the Author, Other Works in the Series

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pp. 91-93

Laura Erickson has been writing and speaking about birds and promoting their conservation for thirty-five years. Her daily radio spot and iTunes podcast For the Birds airs nationally. She has written four previous books, including Twelve Owls (Minnesota, 2011) and Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids, which received the National Outdoor ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816682096
E-ISBN-10: 0816682097
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816681198

Page Count: 104
Publication Year: 2012