Discover the Thrill: Top 7 Hawk Watching Sites in MN & WI

Minnesota and wisconsin have some of the top breathtaking hawk watching sites in the country. Hawk watching is an exhilarating activity that involves locating hawks and other birds of prey as they migrate through the sky.

Minnesota and wisconsin provide an ideal location for hawk watching enthusiasts due to the diverse range of habitats found in the two states. From the north shore of lake superior to the mississippi flyway, these states offer breathtaking sites that provide an unparalleled opportunity to observe hawks and other birds of prey in their natural habitat.

In this article, we will highlight the top 7 hawk watching sites in minnesota and wisconsin that are sure to leave you in awe.

Discover the Thrill: Top 7 Hawk Watching Sites in MN & WI


What Is Hawk Watching?

Definition And Explanation Of Hawk Watching

Hawk watching is a popular activity that involves observing migratory or resident hawks in their natural habitat. It is a fantastic way to get up close to these majestic birds of prey and to witness their sheer beauty and power.

Hawk watching is also known as raptor watching or hawk migration.

Some of the most popular hawk watching sites are located in minnesota and wisconsin, where large numbers of hawks converge during the fall migration. This is the perfect opportunity to watch these birds as they make their way to their winter homes in southern regions.

The Benefits Of Hawk Watching For Nature Enthusiasts

Hawk watching is a unique experience that provides a wealth of benefits for nature enthusiasts and bird lovers. Here are some of the many benefits of hawk watching:

  • Improve your bird watching skills: Hawk watching can help you improve your birdwatching skills as it requires patience, a keen eye, and attention to detail.
  • Learn about the behavior of hawks: By observing hawks in their natural habitat, you can learn about their behavior, their hunting techniques, and their communication patterns.
  • Appreciate the beauty of nature: Watching hawks soar through the sky against a backdrop of stunning natural landscapes is a breathtaking experience that can help you appreciate the beauty of nature.
  • Connect with other nature enthusiasts: Hawk watching is a social activity that allows you to meet other nature enthusiasts and bird lovers who share the same passion for birds.
  • Stress relief: Hawk watching is a peaceful activity that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. It allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

So pack your binoculars, dress warmly, and head out to some of the top hawk watching sites in minnesota and wisconsin for an unforgettable experience.

Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve, Duluth, Mn

Overview Of The Site

Hawk ridge nature reserve, located in duluth, minnesota, is a picturesque site that’s best known for its incredible bird-watching opportunities. With its spectacular views of lake superior, the reserve attracts not only birders but also tourists who come to enjoy the dazzling landscapes.

Here are some features of the reserve that make it distinctive:

  • The reserve covers over 3,000 acres of land and attracts over 100,000 visitors annually.
  • The spectacular views and diverse habitats of the area provide opportunities to observe all sorts of birds, including hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls.
  • Hawk ridge nature reserve is probably the best location to view migrating raptors in the world.

Types Of Hawks To Look Out For

Hawk ridge nature reserve has become a popular destination for birders and photographers who come here to witness the migration of hawks. During the fall, the reserve becomes a hub for bird-watchers who anticipate the spectacle of hawks in flight.

Here are a few types of hawks that you may come across:

  • Broad-winged hawk: This hawk is a small buteo with a broad tail and rounded wings. They make a distinctive “peet-weet” sound when soaring in the sky.
  • Red-tailed hawk: These hawks are a common sight, with their broad, rounded wings and rusty-red tail feathers. They can usually be seen sitting on a perch or soaring high in the sky.
  • Cooper’s hawk: Cooper’s hawks are small to medium-sized birds with rounded wings and long tails. They can be difficult to spot due to their swift movements and secretive nature.

Best Time To Visit

As mentioned earlier, hawk ridge nature reserve is a prime location to view hawks during their migration season. In general, the best time to visit is from mid-september to mid-november. During this time, the reserve hosts the annual fall migration festival, which offers guided hikes, educational programs, and the opportunity to view the birds up close.

Here are a few reasons why you should plan your visit during this time:

  • You’ll be able to witness thousands of hawks in flight as they migrate south for the winter.
  • The weather is often mild and clear during this time, making it perfect for spending long hours outside.
  • The fall migration festival offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about the amazing birds and the unique ecosystem they inhabit.

Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wi

Overview Of The Site

Crex meadows is a state wildlife area located in grantsburg, wisconsin, covering over 30,000 acres. It is a perfect location for bird enthusiasts, offering a unique opportunity to observe several bird species, including raptors. The site was established in 1949 to protect waterfowl breeding grounds, and since then, it has been a haven for bird lovers.

The park area includes marshes, prairies, and forests, making it an ideal habitat for different bird species.

Types Of Hawks To Look Out For

Hawk watching at crex meadows is a unique experience, giving visitors a chance to spot various hawk species. Among the hawk species which you can spot include:

  • Red-tailed hawks: These hawks are the most commonly spotted in the park, with a distinctive reddish-brown tail.
  • Sharp-shinned hawks: These hawks are often seen darting through trees at lightning speed.
  • Cooper’s hawks: These birds are known for their blue-gray coloring and rounded tail feathers.
  • Northern harriers: These hawks have long tails and wings, and the male’s gray coloring is a distinctive trait.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit crex meadows is between september and november when raptors, including hawks, are migrating south for the winter. The birds use the park as a resting place, and visitors to the crex meadows at this time of the year can spot a large number of hawks.

Early morning and late evening hours are the best times to observe hawks at crex meadows. Visitors can enjoy unobstructed views and perfect lighting conditions during these hours, making their experience even more rewarding.

Plan your trip to crex meadows today and take in the awe-inspiring hawk watching experience!

Buena Vista Wildlife Area, Alma, Wi

Overview Of The Site

Located in alma, wi, buena vista wildlife area occupies over 500 acres of natural prairie, oak savanna, and woodland habitat. This wildlife haven is a popular destination for bird watchers, especially those interested in hawk watching. Buena vista affords both residents and tourists the opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of hawks soaring through the sky.

Types Of Hawks To Look Out For

Buena vista wildlife area is home to a variety of hawk species. They include:

  • Red-tailed hawk: The most common hawk species in north america, with a wingspan of up to 56 inches.
  • Cooper’s hawk: Compact and agile, with a wingspan of up to 37 inches.
  • Sharp-shinned hawk: Small and swift, with a wingspan of up to 27 inches.
  • Broad-winged hawk: Medium-sized, with a wingspan of up to 39 inches, and known for their distinctive high-pitched whistling call.
  • Northern harrier: Also known as the marsh hawk, the northern harrier has a wingspan of up to 48 inches and is known for their aerial courtship display.
  • Golden eagle: Large and powerful, with a wingspan of up to 90 inches, the golden eagle is a rare, but magnificent sight during migration.

Best Time To Visit

If you want to witness the most impressive hawk migration at buena vista wildlife area, then be sure to visit during the fall migration season, from september to november. During this time, thousands of hawks can be seen soaring overhead as they follow thermal currents to their wintering ground.

The best time to visit is in september when broad-winged hawks make their way south in large numbers. However, visitors can still catch a glimpse of some hawk species during spring migration in march and april.

Whether you are a seasoned bird watcher or a beginner, buena vista wildlife area is worth a visit. With an abundance of hawks and stunning natural surroundings, you won’t regret a visit to this breathtaking hawk watching site.

Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay, Mn

Overview Of The Site

Tettegouche state park is a beautiful natural site located on the north shore of lake superior in silver bay, minnesota. The park features 9 miles of hiking trails, a stunning waterfall, and a breathtaking rocky shoreline. Tettegouche state park is an ideal spot for watching hawks and other birds of prey soar through the sky.

Types Of Hawks To Look Out For

This state park is home to several species of hawks, including:

  • Red-tailed hawks: These are large hawks with a reddish-brown tail that can be seen while they fly.
  • Sharp-shinned hawks: These small hawks have a long tail that is square in shape.
  • Cooper’s hawks: These medium-sized hawks have a rounded tail and can be easily recognized by their distinctive head shape.
  • Northern goshawks: These are large hawks with a broad, grayish tail.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit tettegouche state park for hawk watching is during the fall migration season, which runs from september through november. During this time, hawks and other birds of prey are on their way to their wintering grounds in the southern united states and mexico.

If you want to get the most out of your hawk-watching experience, try to visit on a clear day with northwesterly winds. This will provide ideal conditions for the hawks to glide and soar through the sky.

Lastly, it’s important to note that the park is closed during the winter months, so plan your visit accordingly.

So, if you’re a hawk enthusiast or just someone who wants to witness the incredible sight of these majestic birds soaring through the sky, tettegouche state park is definitely a must-see destination.

Horicon Marsh, Horicon, Wi

Overview Of The Site

Horicon marsh is a protected wetland in horicon, wi, covering over 33,000 acres. Here, you can observe various wildlife, especially birds, including hawks, ducks, and shorebirds. The visitor center is excellent, providing information about the marsh’s ecosystem, and a few trails available for walking.

Types Of Hawks To Look Out For

Horicon marsh is a perfect destination to spot various hawk species throughout the year. Here are some of the hawks that you might see while hiking in the area:

  • Red-tailed hawk: The most common hawk in the region, with a prominent red tail.
  • Bald eagle: A majestic bird of prey with a white head and a huge wingspan.
  • Cooper’s hawk: A medium-sized hawk with a yellow eye and a long tail.
  • Northern harrier: A medium-size hawk with a distinct white rump patch.
  • Sharp-shinned hawk: A small hawk with a short, squared tail.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit horicon marsh is during fall. Typically, hawks begin to migrate during the month of september, increasing the chances of viewing them. Moreover, winter could be an excellent time to spot bald eagles in the region, during which they congregate near open water areas.

If you’re visiting during spring, it is also a chance to spot some species such as the red-tailed hawk, which is nesting, and they’re busy with breeding activities. Lastly, it is essential to note that during summer, the area could be buzzing with another bird’s activity, making it worth visiting at any time of the year.

With its diverse wildlife and breathtaking views, horicon marsh is definitely a must-visit for any bird watcher. Make sure to bring your binoculars, and you may spot some of the elusive hawks discussed.

What To Bring On Your Hawk Watching Trip

Minnesota and wisconsin offer some of the most stunning vistas for hawk watchers in the united states. As you embark on your journey to witness these majestic birds in their natural habitat, make sure you are well-equipped with the right gear.

Here is a list of items you should bring on your hawk watching trip.


Binoculars are an essential piece of equipment for hawk watching. They allow you to observe these magnificent creatures up close without disturbing them. Here are some key points to consider when selecting the best binoculars for your trip:

  • Choose binoculars with a magnification of at least 8x or 10x.
  • Opt for a lens with an objective diameter of 42mm or larger for better image clarity.
  • Consider waterproof binoculars, as weather conditions can change suddenly.


Capturing these graceful birds in flight is an experience that should not be missed. Make sure you have a camera that can handle the job. Here are some key points to consider when selecting the best camera for your trip:

  • Choose a camera with a fast autofocus and burst mode capabilities to capture clear images of the hawks in motion.
  • Opt for a camera with a long telephoto lens to get closer to the hawks without scaring them.
  • Bring additional batteries and memory cards to ensure you don’t miss any action.

Essential Clothing And Gear For Outdoor Adventures

When preparing for your hawk watching trip, it’s important to bring the right gear and clothing. Here are some recommended items to ensure you’re comfortable during your outdoor adventure:

  • Wear comfortable, layered clothing that can easily adapt to changing weather conditions.
  • Bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support and traction to navigate rugged terrain.
  • Bring snacks and ample water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Happy Hawk Watching!

How To Spot Hawks Effectively

Minnesota and wisconsin are home to some of the most breathtaking hawk watching sites in the world. With picturesque landscapes and a wide variety of hawk species, it’s no surprise that visitors flock to these areas every season. But spotting hawks can be a challenging task, even for the most experienced bird watchers.

We’ll give you some useful tips on how to spot hawks effectively, along with some behavioral patterns and identifying features to look out for. So, let’s get started!

Identifying Hawk Behaviors And Patterns

When it comes to spotting hawks effectively, understanding their behavior is essential. Here are some typical behavior patterns that hawks display:

  • Circling: Hawks are known for their circular flight patterns, where they fly upwards in circles. Spotting them at this altitude can be difficult, but it’s a great way to identify their species.
  • Soaring: Hawks soar above the trees, flapping their wings occasionally. This technique is a great way to conserve energy while staying aloft.
  • Diving: Hawks dive at incredible speeds to catch their prey. Look out for them diving towards the ground or swooping towards the treetops.
  • Perching: Hawks often perch on high up trees to scan their surroundings for prey. Look out for them in these areas, especially during the early morning or late evening.

Tips For Spotting Hawks From A Distance

Spotting hawks can be challenging, and doing so from a distance makes it even more difficult. Here are some useful tips for spotting hawks from afar:

  • Use binoculars: Investing in a good pair of binoculars can make all the difference. By zooming in, you can get a closer look at the hawks and identify their species!
  • Scan the trees: Harks often perch atop high trees. By scanning the branches of the trees, you might be able to spot them sitting pretty.
  • Watch for movement: Keep an eye out for movement as hawks are known to make sudden movements while hunting or searching for prey.
  • Pay attention to surroundings: Hawks are often seen flying near open spaces such as fields, roads, and rivers. Therefore, keep an eye out for them while driving or hiking through these areas.

Hawks are a stunning addition to the serene landscapes of minnesota and wisconsin. By using these tips and identifying their behaviors, you’ll be able to spot these elusive birds more easily. It’s a truly breathtaking experience that we highly recommend for all nature enthusiasts out there!

Frequently Asked Questions Of “Top 7 Breathtaking Hawk Watching Sites In Minnesota And Wisconsin”

What Is Hawk Watching In Minnesota And Wisconsin?

Hawk watching is observing migratory birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles, and falcons, as they migrate through minnesota and wisconsin during the fall season.

When Is The Best Time To Go Hawk Watching?

The best time to go hawk watching in minnesota and wisconsin is between september and november, when the fall migration is underway and the weather is pleasant.

Which Are The Best Locations For Hawk Watching In Minnesota And Wisconsin?

Some of the best locations for hawk watching in minnesota and wisconsin include hawk ridge nature reserve in duluth, crex meadows wildlife area in grantsburg, and buena vista park in alma.

What Types Of Hawks Can Be Seen During Hawk Watching?

During hawk watching in minnesota and wisconsin, one can expect to see several species of hawks, such as bald eagles, sharp-shinned hawks, cooper’s hawks, and broad-winged hawks.

What Should I Bring With Me For Hawk Watching?

For hawk watching, it is recommended to bring binoculars, comfortable shoes, a hat, sunscreen and water. Dressing in layers will help you stay comfortable during the changing weather conditions.


As you can see, the midwest region has some of the best and most stunning hawk watching sites in the country. Minnesota and wisconsin, with their diverse natural habitats, offer prime locations for watching these majestic raptors. The breathtaking views and the thrill of seeing these birds in action makes it a perfect activity for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a beginner, these seven spots will not disappoint. It’s important to remember to respect these areas and their inhabitants, and to practice responsible birding. Remember to bring your binoculars, dress appropriately for the weather, and enjoy the experience.

So, pack up your gear and head to one of these locations for an unforgettable hawk watching experience. Happy birding!

Md Atiqul Hakim

AtiQ's blog, "Wild Bird Lady," is a treasure trove of insights, tips, and captivating stories. Join him on a fascinating journey of exploration, discovery, and celebration of our avian neighbors through engaging articles and breathtaking photographs.

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