Red-tailed hawk. Photo Credit: Barry Cherriere
Tales from Niagara is a blog series focused on the people and places that make Niagara’s Greenbelt great. The series will cover everything from local businesses, to seasonal events, to life on Niagara farms. Look out for our upcoming posts to stay up-to-date and informed on exciting going-ons in Niagara's Greenbelt.
After a long and frigid winter, the warmer temperatures of March are bringing more than just people back outdoors.
The winged silhouettes of hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey can now be seen drifting over the Niagara Escarpment during their annual spring migration back into Ontario.
For anyone wanting to catch a glimpse of these birds, the best opportunity is at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area in Grimsby, where 14,000 birds are expected to fly through this spring!
Since 1975, bird watchers in Grimsby have been monitoring the movement of the raptors along the Escarpment. In 1990, the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch was created to continue with the monitoring efforts, as well as to educate the public about hawks and raptors, and assist hawk conservation projects.
Every day from March 1st to the middle of May, observers from the Hawkwatch are stationed at the lookout tower at Beamer Memorial. The Hawkwatch members are happy to answer questions and to share their knowledge with conservation area visitors . While you’re there, you can also take a Greenbelt Walk on the Bruce Trail to enjoy the wildflowers and trees that thrive in this section of the Carolinian forest in Niagara.
Hawkwatch Banner. Photo Credit: Mike Street
The unique geologic characteristics of the Niagara Escarpment help draw in the winged guests throughout the spring. Steeper escarpment slopes at Beamer Memorial results in strong updrafts of wind blowing off Lake Ontario, and the rising spring temperatures and forested and farmed land along the escarpment help create warm thermal columns of air that the hawks can glide on while barely expending energy.
Beamer Memorial is also a temporary home the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon - two of the 78 species-at-risk the Greenbelt helps protect.
Each year on Good Friday, the Hawkwatch hosts an open house to educate curious members of the public. It is a great opportunity for residents of all ages to learn about hawk ecology and the importance of the area. This year’s event on April 3rd will be held from 10 am to 3 pm will consist of a live bird demonstration, talks from ornithologists, and displays from local groups - make sure to check it out!
--Communications Assistant, Niagara Region