Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch



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Since 1975, birdwatchers have been monitoring the annual spring migration of hawks, eagles, falcons, and vultures over the Niagara Peninsula.

The Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch was organized in March of 1990 to:

  • Promote the enjoyment of hawkwatching
  • Educate people about hawks and hawk migration
  • Conduct systematic counts of hawks migrating over the Niagara Peninsula
  • Work for the preservation of raptors in Ontario

Members receive two newsletters annually and are invited to participate in the count as often as possible and attend an annual social. An Open House is held on Good Friday every year both for members and to assist the general public in learning more about the migration taking place right over their heads.

Most hawks, falcons, eagles and vultures are migratory and move south to more moderate climates each fall to avoid our harsh Canadian winter. Every spring this process reverses and these birds return to Canada to nest and raise their young.


Migrating birds in spring have a purpose - to get where they are going in the shortest time possible. In order to achieve the fastest rate of travel and conserve energy, they seek out rising air. Along the Niagara Escarpment, strong updrafts are created by winds being deflected upwards as they blow against this limestone cliff. Migrant hawks take advantage of the redirected winds and glide on set wings above the tree tops. At Hamilton, the end of Lake Ontario, they drift northward, with many seeking out the escarpment again and others spreading out elsewhere.

These birds also drift high in the sky by "catching a thermal", a column of rising hot air created by the spring sunshine warming the ground. Circling inside this thermal, the birds will rise until they are mere specks, and at the top of the thermal they glide forward for long distances without moving a feather.

Because the cold waters of Lakes Ontario and Erie do not produce thermals, almost all birds of prey migrating north into Ontario must go around these two large bodies of water. The configuration of the two lakes creates a funneling effect, with the result that large numbers of birds of prey fly directly over the Niagara Peninsula. Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, located on the top of the escarpment at its closest point to Lake Ontario and overlooking Grimsby, is an ideal observation point for hawk enthusiasts.

Starting on March 1, and continuing every day until the middle of May, the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch has people stationed at Beamer from 8AM to 4PM Standard Time (9AM-5PM Daylight Savings Time) to identify and record every bird of prey that passes overhead. Information is freely available, there is no admission charge, and the best hours are between 10:00am and 2:00pm Standard Time (11AM-3PM Daylight Savings Time).

Click here for the NPH Membership Application form.

For more information, please contact:

Mike Street - (905) 648-3737 or


Honorary Dave Copeland
Presidents Bruce Duncan
(In Memoriam) Walter Klabunde
President Vacant
Past President/ John Stevens
Statistics 905-685-6734
Treasurer Mike Street
Publicity 905-648-3737
Facebook Page Matt Mills
Counter Matt Mills
Coordinator 905-570-6547
Secretary Glenn Barnett
Newsletter Sandy Darling
  (C) Copyright by the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch.