This IBA provides some of North America's best autumn hawk watching. The raptor count from the main overlook for the past 30 years has averaged more than 62,000 and a two-year total exceeding 100,000. Large numbers of Broad-winged Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks and Bald Eagles are counted every fall. Daily counts of migrating raptors have been conducted for 30 years along with banding of both raptors and migrating songbirds.
Hawks migrate from as far away as the Arctic towards wintering areas as distant as South America. Reluctant to cross a large body of water, birds funnel down the north shore of Lake Superior, riding thermals and updrafts created by the topography along the shore. Hawk Ridge has been known to be a significant migration concentration point for more than half a century. The first organized hawk counts were documented by Dr. Pershing Hofslund in 1951. The banding station was started in 1972. Annually more an 3000 raptors and 15,000 songbirds, consisting of 100 species are banded at this site.