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Field reports: Massive bird migration stuns Duluth counters

More than 30,000 common nighthawks, such as the one shown here, were among more than 90,000 non-raptors counted Tuesday in Duluth by counters with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. (Photo by Laura Erickson)

Despite the hot and humid weather in Duluth on Tuesday, counters with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory witnessed a massive movement of migrating birds, according to Karl Bardon, official counter at Hawk Ridge.

The movement “stunned the counters,” Bardon said in a report on the event, which began at sunrise and continued throughout the day. And these weren’t the raptors that often pass over Hawk Ridge in great numbers. These were non-raptors such as nighthawks, woodpeckers, thrushes, warblers and waxwings.

“The total of 91,667 migrating non-raptors represents one of the highest counts ever recorded in Duluth and is certainly the largest flight of birds I have ever witnessed on the North Shore in nine years as counter at Hawk Ridge,” Bardon said.

The count included a combined total of observations from both Hawk Ridge and from a location closer to the lakeshore in both morning and evening, he said.

Bardon had help from Alex Lamoreaux, Kaija Gahm and Steve Kolbe in the count.

Highlights, by species, included:

* 33,758 warblers (19 species)

* 28,054 common nighthawks (the third-highest count for Minnesota, which followed a flight of 13,723 on Aug. 29, bringing the 2015 season total to about 50,000 nighthawks.

* nine red-headed woodpeckers, which ties the local high count set in 1983

* 45 eastern kingbirds

* 1,085 blue jays

* 12,842 cedar waxwings (a state record high count)

* 198 rose-breasted grosbeaks (a state record high count)

* 1,563 red-winged blackbirds

* To view daily updates of the migration at Hawk Ridge, visit or

Don’t forget doe permit applications

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds firearms and muzzleloader hunters who want to harvest antlerless deer this hunting season that they must purchase their licenses and apply for an antlerless permit by Thursday.

Antlerless deer permits are issued by lottery in designated permit areas. Some areas that have not been in the lottery classification in recent years are in that classification this year, primarily as a result of new deer population goals.