Press Release, Golden Eagle Banquet Keynote, April 2015

Invitation to Golden Eagle Banquet Keynote Speech by Mark Martell on April 8 and Owl Banding and Stars on April 15

Greetings! Spring migration is well underway now, after some rough weather with lots of precipitation. So far, the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch has tallied 145 Bald Eagles, 125 Golden Eagles, 59 Rough-legged Hawks, and 584 Red-tailed Hawks along with some Red-shouldered Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, and Turkey Vultures. In his first week, the Waterbird Counter, Josh Jaeger, has recorded Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoters as well as Mergansers, Scaup, Buffleheads, and more. Among the ten owls already captured at Cheboygan State Park’s research site was a Northern Saw-Whet Owl previously banded in central Indiana in 2014.

The Mackinaw Raptor Fest on April 7 to 9 is quickly approaching its attendance limit, with more than 150 people attending both daytime sessions and the banquet. It promises to be a memorable weekend.

Limited space is still available, especially for the banquet on Saturday, April 8. To inquire, please email Kathy Bricker at kathyhomeaccount@gmail.com before Tuesday night, April 4. The cost for just the banquet is $30 and may be paid on site by people who are not attending the Fest. The doors at St. Anthony’s Church in Mackinaw City open at 4:45 pm, where you will have the chance to buy some raptor-themed apparel and submit the winning bid on a couple dozen excellent Silent Auction items. Dinner will begin at 5:15 pm. See www.mackinawraptorfest.org for the Merchandise description and photographs.

We also have a few openings left for the April 15 Owl Banding and Star evening event at Headlands Dark Sky Park, the only chance in 2017 for this experience. We will target Northern Saw-whet Owls, with other species possible as well. Capturing owls on any particular night is hoped for but not guaranteed. However, this should be prime time for owl migration. Learning about owls will alternate with indoor and outdoor sessions with stars, by Kathy Bricker. To inquire or register, email Kathy Bricker. To support the owl research, a donation to MSRW of $15 per person is requested.

The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch reports that spring migration has gained steam after a stretch of unfavorable rainy weather for flying. Three types of bird research have launched. Ed Pike, Chair, explains that now that the ice has moved out of the Straits near McGulpin Point, Mackinaw City, the contracted Waterbird Counter Josh Jaeger works from sunrise to early afternoon. Jaeger has seen the first Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoters of the year, as well as Mergansers, Scaup, Buffleheads, and a few Redheads still lingering from the winter.
According to Pike, another team of researchers is beginning to work on night-time migrants. “Arthur Sanchez and Nick Alioto have captured, measured, and banded ten Northern Saw-whet Owls at Cheboygan State Park, including one foreign re-cap. Another biologist had banded this bird in central Indiana in 2014.” Pike explains that bird banding is a time-tested, safe, and moderately low-cost method of learning such information on age and movements of birds.

The public is welcome to visit Mackinaw City’s Waterbird site from dawn to 2 p.m., and the Hawk Watch from 10 to 4 p.m., to learn about the birds and their research. So far, counters have tallied 145 Bald Eagles, 125 Golden Eagles, 59 Rough-legged Hawks, and 584 Red-tailed Hawks. Other raptors seen include Red-shouldered Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, and Turkey Vultures. Up to 20 species of daytime raptors may pass through the Straits, which holds records for the numbers of Red-tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles.

“Golden Eagles excite many people more than other species, so this year we chose to feature them at the Mackinaw Raptor Fest.” says Kathy Bricker, Secretary of MSRW. “We have space still available at the keynote presentation and the banquet, so offer the public as well as Fest registrants the chance to hear Mark Martell talk about his research on these cousins of Bald Eagles.”

For twelve years, Martell directed Bird Conservation at Audubon Minnesota where he studied both Golden and Bald Eagles. He became an expert on the eastern population of Golden Eagles, using radio telemetry to track their movements.

Golden Eagles occur in more places than any other species of eagle. Common in western U.S. and the national bird of Mexico, they also live in Europe and have been named the official national animal of Albania, Germany, Austria, and Kazakhstan. Golden Eagles prey mostly on small mammals like rabbits, which they can see from a mile away. Unlike the fish-eating Bald Eagles that often dive into the water for their prey, Goldens have feathers covering their legs. Like other large raptors, their numbers are declining due to habitat loss, wind turbines, and poisoning by lead shot.

To inquire about the Golden Eagle program and banquet on Saturday, April 8, email kathyhomeaccount@gmail.com before Tuesday night, April 4. The cost for the banquet is $30
and may be paid on site by people who are not attending the Fest. The doors at St. Anthony’s Church in Mackinaw City open at 4:45 pm, with dinner catered by Audie’s served at 5:15 pm.
Bricker continues: “Of additional interest, we have a few openings for the Owl Banding and Star evening event on Saturday, April 15 at Headlands Dark Sky Park. We will target Northern Saw-whet Owls. Learning about owls will alternate with sessions on Making Friends Among Stars.” This event will be held regardless of the weather. To support the owl research, a donation to MSRW of $15 per person is requested. Registration is required through email kathyhomeaccount@gmail.com.