Monthly Archives: September 2015

North Winds Bring Owls

We had a good number of owls move through the point last night. A total of 20 NSWO were captured and five of them were already wearing bands. Of these banded birds, one was banded at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) on 8-9-14; one was banded at Steven’s Point, WI on 10-11-14, and one was a recapture we banded at Pointe La Barbe last fall on 10-19-14! There was no information available at this time for the other two birds, but they were both hatch year birds likely banded at WPBO this past summer.

Northeast winds are predicted for tonight as well as cooler temps (43 F). Hopeful for another busy night.

Blood Moon Bird

Suboptimal weather on the night of 27 September prevented me from a) seeing the lunar eclipse and b) banding many birds. The sky remained cloudy well into the morning except for a break in the clouds around 0300 hours, which allowed for a brief view of the full moon. Winds were a steady 10-15 mph out of the southwest bringing with them a balmy 65 degrees.

One NSWO, dubbed the Blood Moon Bird, was captured and banded around 0100 hours. This owl, an after second year female, was the only catch of the evening.

The banding station was closed last night due to rain. The weather tonight looks great, though, and I’m hopeful for a big push of birds with the colder temps and north winds.

Continue reading

Winds increased waterbirds slowed

On Monday, Sept. 28 Ed Pike and Steve Baker counted waterbirds at McGalpin Point from 7:30am to 10:30 am.   Migration seemed slower than Sunday but there were still quite a few birds moving.  C. Loon 2 landed in the Straits; 3 were west bound and 58 were east bound.  D. C. Cormorant most were west bound, one large flock of 110 flew by with a total 156.  Red-necked Grebe 2 groups of 3 flying around in the Straits.  Redhead total 82.  White-winged Scoter 3.  Bufflehead total 11.  Canada
Goose total 8 flying suoth.  Horned Grebe total 4 sitting in the Straits.  Aythya sp. total 168.  Duck sp. 127.  Other species seen moving south across the Straits included Raven 2, N. Harrier 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Bald Eagle adult 2, immature 3; flying south across the Straits.  One immature Bald Eagle flying along shore.  One kingfisher flying along the shoreline.  About 10am there was a group of about 70 Turkey Vultures flying back and forth along the shoreline of Point LaBarbe; they were still seen when we left at 10:30.

Loons are moving

On Sunday Sept. 27 Ed Pike conducted observations at McGalpin Point from 7:25am till 11:45am.  Winds were light from the south with clouds moving in by mid-morning.  C. Loon 1 immature swimming around in front of the point.  One loon was flying west.  The rest were all flying east; the loons were flying through the morning till about 10:45am.  At around 9:15am a group of 7, 5 and 2 moved through in about a 10 minute period.  Total loons 88.  Double crested Cormorant all moved through in the first hour, one flock of 66, total 115.  Aythya sp. probably Redheads total 53.  C. Merganser 7. Red-necked Grebe 4.  Horned Grebe 3.  Canada Goose moving south 9.  Duck sp. 106.  Bald Eagle one seen along shoreline and 1 adult flew south across the straits.  Sharp-shinned Hawk 12.  N. Harrier 1.  Great Blue Heron 1 along shore.  Turkey Vulture 1.  Short-eared Owl 1 flew south across the straits.  Am. Pipit 12.  C. Raven group of 4 flew south across the straits.  Still quite a few gull flying around the straits.

Night of 26 September 2015

Four more NSWO were captured and banded on the point last night. The captures included 2 second year females, 1 hatch year female and 1 after second year female. So far, we’ve banded 13 NSWO since 20 September and only three of those have been hatch year birds. I know we can’t conclude anything regarding age class with so few numbers and with how early it is in the season–just an observation that has me intrigued. It’ll be really interesting to see what the coming weeks will show as far as age class goes; such data can give us an idea as to how successful this breeding season was for the species.

On a side note, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s Supermoon eclipse. I just read that it’s the first one since 1982 and that the next one won’t occur until 2033. Right now,  it’s pretty overcast in St. Ignace, but fingers crossed things open up as the evening progresses! Here’s to hoping you have clear skies, too.

Winds are predicted to be southwest at 5-10 mph tonight, but with a chance of rain showers moving through tomorrow, there could be a push of birds tonight. As always, time will tell.


I wish.

On two separate net checks last night, I discovered a lump of something at the far end of the LEOW audio lure net. It was enough to get me excited for a moment, but both times the mysterious lump turned out to be an Eastern Cottontail mowing the vegetation directly under the net. Luckily, I learned my lesson last fall about the dangers of having the nets open just above the ground when I caught a snowshoe hare. As some of you might remember, said hare did quite a number on the net, so I’ve since kept the net about a foot above the ground to avoid catching small mammals.

NCMC biology professor (and longtime friend), Kathy Germain, stopped out last night with two bio students. The first six net checks were empty and I was beginning to wonder of it would be another night of no-shows. However, we were all pretty excited to finally have one NSWO in the net at the 11:30 pm net check.

It’s always a delight to show someone their first-ever Northern Saw-whet Owl and I’m so happy I could be a part of the students’ experience–just one of many reasons why I love doing what I do.

The second year female NSWO was the only owl of the night.

The weather tonight is more of the same. Winds are predicted to be east until after midnight at which point they should switch over to south winds.




Waterbirds moving early

On Thursday, Sept. 24,2015 Ed Pike did observations at McGalpin Point.  The waterbirds were moving right after sunrise and slowed down toward the end of the second hour of observations.  All the C. Loons were flying to the east this morning, 10 the first hour, 6 the second hour and 1 the third hour.  The D.C. Cormorants were all heading west with a total of 57.   Redheads a flock of 45.  Aythya sp. total 126.  C. Merganser a flock of 38 headed west with 10 others seen.  Canada Geese were moving south this morning with six different flocks seen, one totaled 60; total for morning 149.  A few Red-necked Grebes flying around total 9.  Duck sp. 47.  White-winged Scoter a flock of 12.  Also observed 2 Great-blue Herons flying along the shoreline and a Spotted Sandpiper flying along the shoreline.  One Sharp-shinned Hawk came across.  Two Bald Eagles, one flying north and one flying south across the Straits.  Am. Pipits, a flock of 8 and a flock of 6.

The Common Loons flying by were high and distant for the first 2 hrs and the few later loons were flying closer to the south shore and only 10 to 50 feet above the water.

Next observations will be Sunday morning.


Last night was the first night since starting that no owls were captured. I did have one NSWO hang out for a few hours near the audio lure though. It stayed at the edge of the cedars and called out every so often, but never made an appearance-probably one already banded this past week.

East winds are predicted to build throughout the evening to 10-15 mph, so I expect another slow night.

A few more species

On Sept. 23 Ed Pike made observations from 7:25 am till 11:10 am; as usual the movement of waterbirds slowed down after the second hour.  There were more species seen moving around the area.  Upon arrival at McGalpin Point I observed as Merlin chasing a passerine which was headed south to shore.  They put on quite a show of twists and turns and loops; when they disappeared behind the trees to the east of me the passerine was still headed for shore.  Today there were 2 Sandhill Cranes actually flying south.  Seen today were D.C. Cormorant 49 total, most still moving west probably in migration.  Canada Goose 28 – headed west,  2 flocks, 7 and 12 headed south.  White-wings Scoter 1.  Red-necked Grebe total 26.  Horned Grerbe 8.  Redhead 179.  C. Loon 1 sitting on the water, 3 flying west, and 17 flying east.  Scaup sp. one flock of 28 and one of 2.  C. Merganser total 15.  Aythya sp. 84.  Duck sp. 109 total.  Merlin 2,  Turkey Vulture 18 headed South.  Broadwinged Hawk 1 came across with some Turkey Vultures.  N. Harrier 1.  Monarch Butterfly 1.

The Raptors started flying across the straits in the third hour after sunrise; the loons were mostly seem during the second and third hours after sunrise.  Made for an interesting morning.

Plus Two

Another two NSWO were captured and banded last night. The first (second year, unknown sex) was captured at 11:30 pm and the last (after second year female), was captured at 6:00 this morning.

It looks like the winds are still steady from the east and are predicted to be around 5-10 mph tonight.

On a side note, I ran two audio lures last night: the usual NSWO audio lure plus a Long-eared Owl (LEOW) audio lure at our second net location. Last year, we didn’t see much activity at the second net, so it’ll be interesting to see how the audio lure works out as the season continues.


Sunset at Pointe La Barbe, 23 Sept 2015