All eyes will be on the skies this September as local birders and nature lovers take in one of North America’s greatest migrations.
Holiday Beach Conservation Area is the place to be to take in a grand spectacle: tens of thousands of hawks and raptors flying overhead on their annual journey to nesting grounds in the south.
To celebrate these amazing sights in our own backyard, Essex Region Conservation together with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO) will host the 2023 Festival of Hawks. The festival will take place on September 16 & 17 and features a range of free educational activities and nature-themed programming, all included with the price of admission.
HBMO experts will conduct raptor and hummingbird banding and adoptions in support of their important species and populations monitoring efforts each year. Free educational programs will complement the ongoing banding and live hawk display throughout the event.
Local experts will share information on a wide range of birding and nature-related topics. These include:
– HBMO’s Bob Pettit will provide expertise on identifying hawks in flight.
– Pelee Wings will offer free optic cleanings and demonstrations.
– Take part in various beginner bird and insect hikes.
– Enjoy Chris Gurniak’s wooden flute performance at the outdoor classroom during lunch hours.
– Purchase delicious lunch options from Scotty’s BBQ and Catering.
– Native Trees and Plants (NTP) will sell exclusively native plants for your garden this fall.
– Experience a guided forest therapy walk hosted by Natural Pathways Learning Centre.
– Windsor Essex Storm Enthusiasts (WE SEE) will highlight local weather in the region and share storm chasing stories.
– Just Fishin’ Friends will be at the Trout Pond to share casting tips with guests.
– Visit multiple artwork booths featuring a variety of wildlife and nature themed displays.
On Sunday afternoon, Natural Pathways Learning Centre will host a guided forest therapy walk led by a certified forest therapy guide from the Global Institute of Forest Therapy.
Over approximately 2 hours, participants will explore approximately one km in through the beautiful Carolinian forest at Holiday Beach. This experience is funded by the Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and spaces are limited.
Please pre-register at https://hawkfestforesttherapy.eventbrite.ca
“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.”
On Saturday evening, tickets are available for a special evening Owl Prowl to learn about the owls of Ontario, their adaptations, calls, and behaviours. At this intimate experience, participants will take a guided walk through the woods, looking and listening for owls.
“When circumstances are just right and we’re able to call in an owl, it’s really an extraordinary experience,” Breault Stuebing adds.
Tickets for the Owl Prowl must be pre-purchased online at https://hawkfestowlprowl.eventbrite.ca.
The Festival takes place 10am to 3pm on September 16 & 17. All daytime programs are free with the festival admission fee of $20 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.
Since 1973, 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.