LogoHoliday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO) is a Registered Charitable volunteer organization dedicated to the study and monitoring of migratory birds.  Activities focus on migration of raptors (diurnal birds of prey), passerines (songbirds) and other species passing through southwestern Ontario in the vicinity of Holiday Beach Conservation Area.  Learn more!

Hawk Counter Position for fall 2020

Canadian Hawk Counter Position Announced

Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO) is seeking an experienced hawk migration counter for the Fall Count Season (September 1-November 30) conducted at Holiday Beach Conservation Area near Amherstburg, Ontario. The count is conducted atop a 40-foot wooden tower that affords a good view of the north shore of Lake Erie, the eastern horizon where the hawks are arriving, the northern and southern horizons where birds pass westward during migration. The site has hourly data beginning in 1974 to the present. National Audubon has noted this raptor count site is rated the third best in North America and first in Canada for viewing migrants. HBMO is proud of the programs it offers to the public and has had excellent full-time contract counters for several years. Many of them have continued to pursue graduate degrees in ornithology and obtain employment in rewarding careers.

Forty-six years of count data have been submitted to the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) since its inception in 1974. General HBMO site information, data inventory, migration timing, and Raptor Population Index analysis may be viewed by using this link: http://hawkcount.org/siteinfo.php?rsite=100.

The seasonal average for an individual species has varied in the last 46 years. The current 40 year average for each species is as follows: Turkey Vulture-23,235, Osprey-100, Bald Eagle-102, Northern Harrier-815, Sharp-shinned Hawk-11,378, Cooper’s Hawk-589, Northern Goshawk-28, Red-shouldered Hawk-764, Broad-winged Hawk-32,708, Red-tailed Hawk-5,555, Rough-legged Hawk-84, Golden Eagle-63, American Kestrel-2,629, Merlin-70, and Peregrine Falcon-46.

This is a seasonal contract opportunity for five hawk counting days per week for 13 weeks (September 1 through November 30, 2020) for the fall migration. During the past nine years hawk counting ranged from 588 to 765 hours or an average of 10 hours/day with more in September (more daylight) and fewer in November (less daylight). A typical day of observation is from 7:00 AM EST and 4:00 PM EST. Qualified visitor observers can relieve the counter for short breaks. Daily data for hourly sheets is entered into the HMANA HawkCount.org database each evening.  A year-end report (similar to previous reports) is due February 1, 2021.

Essential Functions:

  • Daily identify and count all migrating raptors passing by Holiday Beach Conservation Area Hawk Tower.
  • Maintain hourly data sheets and enter data into HawkCount.org after daily count ends and submit summary on Ontbirds
  • Identify non-raptor migrants as time permits and submit daily count to eBird Canada.
  • Assist with writing the end-of-season summary report
  • Work in collaboration with count volunteers
  • Interact with hawk watch site visitors and school groups
  • Participate in two weekend hawk festivals in September
  • Undertake measures as agreed by HBMO Board for safe working with COVID 19

Qualifications and Experience:

  • Must be a Canadian national or qualified to work in Canada.
  • Minimum of one season of previous counting experience desired but not necessary
  • Ability to identify eastern raptors in flight.
  • Must be detail oriented; careful data collecting skills.
  • Ability to interacting with the public and have excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Be an enthusiastic and motivated self-starter who is also a strong team player.
  • Be willing to work irregular hours under sometimes difficult field conditions.
  • Must be able to walk on uneven surfaces, climb multiple steep steps in 40-foot tower and carry 20-25 lbs. as necessary.
  • Ability to tolerate long periods of time outside in harsh weather.
  • Must have their own vehicle, and a valid driver’s license.
  • No pets.

Contract total remuneration of $4,000 – $4,500 is based on 65 count days, submitted daily reports, season-end report, birding identification skills and raptor count experience.

A requisite one-day workshop on August 31, 2020 is conducted to help refresh counter’s knowledge of raptor identification and to review protocols.

Lodging is provided at no cost in a person’s home 17 miles from the count site.

Send PDF documents of:

1.   a cover letter outlining your qualifications, work experiences, and career goals, 

2.   a resume, and 

3.   three references (include email and phone numbers) of person(s) who can verify your bird identification skills and work ethic.

Send to Hugh Kent, HBMO Hawk Migration Co-ordinator, hughnkent@gmail.com 519-259-2444 and to Paul Pratt, Chair of HBMO, hbmo.ca@gmail.com. In the subject line write “HBMO Hawk Counter Position”. Closing date for applications July 24th , 2020. The position is open until filled.

Hawk Fest 2019 – September 14/15 & 21/22

Join us for this year’s Festival of Hawks on the weekends of September 14/15 & 21/22 at Holiday Beach Conservation Area. The festival runs from 9am to 3pm each day. A variety of activities will take place throughout the festival weekends.

Visit the Essex Region Conservation Authority to see the schedule of events for the 2019 Festival of Hawks. The festival has moved to the main picnic area at Holiday Beach this year due to high water levels in the vicinity of the hawk tower

Educational programs will compliment the ongoing bird banding and live hawk display throughout both weekends. Local experts will be on-site to teach on a wide range of birding and nature-related topics. These programs include:

  • HBMO’s Bob Pettit will share his years of experience on identifying hawks in flights.
  • Ted Kloske, of Henry’s Windsor, and Alex Denonville will help budding photographers get their best nature shot.
  • Learn about the mystery of the iconic monarch butterfly with Gina Pannunzio of ERCA, and Paul Desjardins of Essex County Nature.
  • HBMO’s Jeremy Hatt will share his tips and tricks on using mobile applications like iNaturalist
  • learn the Who’s Who of Native Plants by Vic Bernyk, Native Trees and Plants

Programs are free with the park’s admission fee of $15 per vehicle.

Eastern Hawk ID Program – 2016

DSC_0054Learn to identify hawks in flight during with the Eastern Hawk ID Program. Identifying a hawk in flight is different than characterizing a perched bird. With practice, patience, and long hours of observation the skills of flight identification can be learned.

To learn more and to download the updated presentation in PowerPoint, Keynote, and PDF formats, click here.

3,000,000 and counting!

Holiday Beach Migration Observatory hawk count surpassed 3,000,000 in 2014!

HBMO is headquartered at the Holiday Beach Conservation Area (HBCA)
in the Big Creek Marsh watershed. This internationally recognized
Important Bird Area, IBA ON034, is owned and operated by Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA).

The Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO) is a volunteer, non-profit membership organization formed in 1986 to promote the study and protection of migrating birds.

Through research and education programs and undertaking various projects, HBMO strives to contribute to the greater understanding of migration and conservation of birds and insects and their habitats. Holiday Beach is ranked as the top hawk watching site in Canada by Audubon Magazine, and the third best in all of North America.
Holiday Beach Migration Observatory is proud to announce that the new milestone was reached last Thursday, September 25/2014. This is our 41st year of counting and record keeping from the 1st of September through to the end of November.

Thanks to our volunteers and public support we will continue our work for many more years to come.

HBMO & The Canadian Snow Bunting Network

Snow-Bunting-toesHBMO banders represent a key SW Ontario banding node of the Canadian Snow Bunting Network (CSBN). The CSBN is administered by Dr. Oliver Love’s lab at the University of Windsor and represents a network of over 200 citizen, academic and government scientists working together to determine the health and demographics of wintering Canadian Snow Bunting populations. This Arctic-breeding species is in steep decline in North America and yet nothing is known regarding the reasons behind the population variability. Winter monitoring of this iconic Canadian species currently represents the best way to understand the dynamics of multiple populations and volunteer banders play a key and pivotal role in this conservation effort.

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Snow Bunting Banding – Winter 2013-14 Slideshow

SNBU Bird #100

Check out some pictures from this winter’s Snow Bunting Banding at our Harrow, Ontario Banding Station. It’s been a fantastic season so far. Click here to view the slideshow! (Tip – click on “Show info” to display more info about the pictures)

There were a few bonus birds banded as well so keep an eye out for those pictures in the slideshow!