Hawk Count-Opening Day at Pointe LaBarbe-August 20th

It was an excellent opener for the season, despite the mostly southwest winds. This year, we are starting 5 days earlier and ending 4 days earlier. In other words, the season will be from August 20th to November 10th, at the same location as last fall, Pointe LaBarbe. Last August, in just one week of counting, 339 raptors comprised of 12 species were tallied. Three consecutive days of 75 or more raptors, including one day with 10 raptor species, certainly exceeded expectations for so early in the season. Additionally, 4 species had (or tied) their seasonal high counts on August 29th alone (Osprey-3, Northern Harrier-10, Cooper’s Hawk-3, and Broad-winged Hawk-63).

Raptors: It was rather incredible to reach double-digit raptor species (10) on the first day of the count. However, just 6 of these species were actual migrants, with the other 4 species behaving like local birds. Bald Eagles were the definite highlight of the day, with 23 migrants recorded. The first good day for Bald Eagles last year wasn’t until August 31st, with 44 birds recorded, so it’s great to already be ahead of pace of last year’s excellent Bald Eagle total.

Other migrant raptors recorded today included: Turkey Vulture-2, Osprey-1, Sharp-shinned Hawk-3, Broad-winged Hawk-1, and Red-tailed Hawk-3. Other raptors seen today included Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Merlin.

Non-raptors: The clear highlight came yesterday, the 19th, in the form of a female Orchard Oriole. This is a rather rare bird in the Upper Peninsula, particularly in the fall, and will be one of the highlights of the season. Other highlights the past two days include Common Loon-2, Red-necked Grebe25, Pectoral Sandpiper-1, Solitary Sandpiper-4, Lesser Yellowlegs-2, Great Egret-1, Bank Swallow-3, Cliff Swallow-6, Gray Catbird-1, Brown Thrasher-1, Purple Finch-2, and moderate numbers of warblers.

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole

Monarchs: Only 2 were detected yesterday and just 9 today

Best of the next 5 days: The next three days are as good as one could hope for this early in the season-three days in a row of northerly winds. It’s hard to say which day is likely to be the best but it seems like Thursday, then Friday, and then Wednesday may be the order. Any, or all, of these days could see 75+ raptors as well as a dramatic increase in the number of Monarchs migrating past.