For parents or grandparents that want to get the kids out and introduced to nature,
there is no better way than to visit Hawk Cliff Weekends. Visitors can get up close
and personal with nature during the two daily presentations about monarch butterflies
and the birds of prey that migrate along the shores of Lake Erie. This fall event is
made possible by the dedicated members of the St. Thomas Field Naturalists Club, the Hawk
Cliff Banding Station, volunteers of Monarch Watch, and the Thames Talbot Land Trust, owners
of Hawk Cliff Woods. Presentations are held in open air tents, with seating available
on a first come, first serve basis.
Monarch butterfly tagging and raptor banding provides a rare opportunity for the
public to get up close and personal with nature, to look and touch is a thrill that
many won't forget. Find out why the number of monarch butterflies has dropped dramatically in
recent years, and how you can help.
Find out how the destruction of habitat, particularly the loss of milkweed on which the
Monarch lays its eggs and on which the larvae depends for food, is contributing towards
the decline in the Monarch butterfly population, and what you can do to help.
Watch an informative demonstration on how they tag Monarch butterflies and understand why
tagging allows researchers to determine migration pathways, the influence of weather on
migration, know the timing of migration, and estimate the size of the Monarch butterfly migration.
At the Hawk Cliff presentations speakers show live specimens of the various types of
birds of prey that have been caught and banded shortly before the demonstration. They talk
about the different species, how and why the birds are banded, the distinguishing features,
how the bird lives, what it eats, and to their declining populations.
What the hawk spotters and banders are looking for are winds out of the north to
push the birds south, up against the colder air over the water of Lake Erie. The
hawks ride the thermals and thus won't fly directly over the lake. Instead, they
migrate along the shoreline until they reach the narrow crossing area at Detroit.
If it's a clear day, the hawks will be soaring very high - hard to spot, hard to
identify, and the Hawk Cliff Raptor Banders can forget about catching many to band.
The Hawk Cliff Raptor Banders have also noticed a declining Raptor population over
the years in the area and point to climate change and the increasing use of insecticides
as a possible reasons for the decline in many Raptor populations. Most of the birds
caught are hatching year birds and they are released following each demonstration.
Hawk Cliff Weekends
This annual event has been hosted for over 40 years by the St Thomas Field Naturalists
Club (STFNC), Hawk Cliff Raptor Banders, and volunteers of Monarch Watch. Thames
Talbot Land Trust is pleased to be a partner on this event again this year.
The Hawk Cliff Weekends is a free outdoor event taking place on September 21st, 22nd and the 28th and 29th from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm. For more info visit