Author Archives: Ed Pike

Spring migration trickles along

web hop over to this website Spring migration has been trickling along.  On March 17 we had a good day with 40 Bald Eagles and 28 Golden Eagles and a few other Hawks for a total of 74 for the day.  Other days there have been just a few Raptors migrating.  On March 19 the first Turkey Vulture appeared.  Daily numbers can be seen at

On March 24 the first Am. Robins, Common Grackles and Redwinged Blackbirds were seen at the Hawk Watch Site and the first E. Meadowlark landed in a tree and sang for the hawk watchers.

Hopefully this next week, with the predicted sunny weather more Raptors will be migrating.

Another quiet day at the Hawk Watch

A couple more days with mostly sunny skies and moderate winds. However the raptors have not made it this far north and the skies are mostly empty. A couple of local Bald Eagles make an appearance during the day and then move back to the south. Maybe there will be some migration in front of the storm system moving in on Saturday night.

2019 Hawk Count begins

The spring 2019 Hawk Count officially began March 5. With partly sunny skies we had hoped for a few raptors, especially a Golden Eagle or 2 and some Red-tails. It seems migration is somewhat behind this year. With 1 to 2 feet of snow on the ground and daytime temperatures in the teens and nights around zero there seems to be little interest in migration yet.

Hopefully with sunny skies and slightly warmer temps some Raptors will be thinking about migration on Friday and Saturday

Hawk Count Sept. 23

On Sunday Ed Pike and Steve Baker conducted the count; the weather was nice in the morning with light to moderate winds from the southwest, which switched to the southeast and east in the afternoon and increased. It started cool, then with the sun coming out became quite warm; the winds switched to the east it turned cold.
For the Raptors it was a slow day overall with the most common being Turkey Vultures with 213 for the day. The TV’s were mostly seen before the winds switched; however some still moved south across the Straits with the moderate southeast winds.
There were unidentified small birds constantly seen in flight over the point till the winds switched to the southeast. The most common migrant was Canada Goose with a total of 906 for the day. Blue Jays put in a good showing in the first 2 hours with 441 counted.
Small numbers of Monarch Butterflies are still being seen.

Ed Pike

Hawk count, Friday, Sept. 7

Friday was a nice day with light winds from the NW switching to the west, mostly sunny with bright blue skies making it difficult to spot high flying Raptors. It was a slow day with a few Raptors moving around and few crossing to the south. At one time there were 10 Bald Eagles in a kettle about 1.5 miles to the north. Four of them finally headed south and crossed the Straits while the rest dispersed in the area.
Two V’s of Canada Geese flew south in the morning. Quite a few Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers were moving around on the point.
Monarch Butterflies seem to have peaked last week with only a few seen at one time throughout the day today.
Brian Hirt, a Hawk watcher from Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory in Virginia, stopped and helped spot Raptors for the day. Brian is on his way to Hawk Ridge, near Duluth, Minn.
Turkey Vulture 2
Bald Eagle 18
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4
Cooper’s Hawk 2
Broad-winged Hawk 32
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Am. Kestrel 4
Monarch Butterfly 20
Canada Goose 56

Ed Pike

Hawk Count Sept. 3

The weather was good with cloudy to partly cloudy skies, temps in the 70s and light winds from the west, then switching to the southwest in the afternoon. A beautiful day to spend at Point LaBarbe. Raptors were seen scattered through the day in small numbers:
Broad-winged Hawk 2
Turkey Vulture 28
Bald Eagle 9 adults and 16 immature
Sharp-shinned Hawk 8
Cooper’s Hawk 2
Osprey 3
Am. Kestrel 3
Peregrine Falcon 1
Quite a few Monarch Butterflies were seen with good numbers around noon total 579. A few Dragon Flies were also seen.
Other species:
Common Loon 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Common Raven 2
Common Grackle 7
Great Blue Heron 2
Red-eyed Vireo 3
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Pine Warbler 1
wilson Warbler 1
Am. Redstart 6
Cape May Warbler 1
Cedar Waxwing 8
The Warblers and Vireos were seen by Steve Baker along the woods.
Ed Pike

Another slow day at the waterbird count

It seems the Red-necked Grebes moved on through last night. Apparently they stopped for the day and moved on; today I only found a group of 3 in flight mid-morning. More D.C. Cormorants were seen today with a couple of flocks in a V headed south. Still a trickle of C. Loons. Otherwise a slow day.
Mallard 5
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Common Loon 9
Red-necked Grebe 3
Double-crested Cormorant 116
Bald Eagle 2
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Ring-billed Gull 5
Herring Gull 1
Song Sparrow 1 (flew onto shore off the lake)

Ed Pike

Increased activity at McGulpin

Things picked up at the waterbird count today, Wed., Aug. 22. It was a cool 61, with strong winds from the north switching to the northwest and laying down slowly as the morning passed. Right after sunrise there were Red-necked Grebes flying all around on the horizon. They did not seem to be migrating, but many flocks were circling the Straits area from the Bridge to area of Saint Helena Island. The highest single scan of the area counted 194 Red-necked Grebes in flight; I believe there are many more out there but could only count them when in flight. Trying to keep track of flocks to not double count them was a challenge. They seem to be using the area as a resting area in their travels to the wintering grounds as flocks of 6 to 34 would fly towards the bridge then turn and fly back to the west finally landing someplace way out in the Straits after several large circles.
Several Common Loons were also seen with most in migration moving from the NW to the SE. With the sunny conditions by 8:30 am almost all the activity died down with only a few waterbirds occasionally seen in flight after that time.
Just before sunrise a flock of 48 American Crows were observed flying south across the Straits near the Bridge. Counted today were:
Common Loon 12
Red-necked Grebe 194
Double-crested Cormorant 21
Bald Eagle 3
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 3
Am. Crow 48
submitted by Ed Pike

Waterbird Count off to a slow start

The Waterbird count started yesterday on Aug. 20 with little fan fare. One nice thing about the fall start is the temperatures are warm. It started at 65 degrees rising to 76 around noon. The winds were light and variable under mostly cloudy conditions. The only problem was the hazy conditions that reduce visibility to about 4 miles. Observed the usual suspects with 7 species of waterbirds and one local Coopers Hawk that came out of the trees on 3 occasions; flew down the beach and flew back into the trees. Species counted are listed below:
Herring Gull 7
Ring-billed Gull 4
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Double-crested Cormorant 29
Red-necked Grebe 2
Belted Kingfisher 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Monarch Butterfly 5

On Tuesday Aug. 21 it looked like it could rain at any time, with hazy conditions again reducing visibility to about 4 miles. Temperatures started at 70 degrees and rose a few degrees by noon. The winds were NE 3 to 5 mph at the start and increased slowly switching to the north at 12 to 15 by noon.
It seems like the Monarch Butterflies are starting to move south and a few Common Loons were seen traveling their usual migration route NW to SE.
Mallard 3
Red-breasted Merganser 5 (female with 4-2/3 grown young)
Common Loon 3
Red-necked Grebe 2
Double-crested Cormorant 14
Great Blue Heron 1
Bald Eagle 1 adult
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Ring-billed Gull 7
Herring Gull 7
Monarch Butterfly 9

Maybe the weak cold front from the northwest tomorrow morning will bring in few more species.
Ed Pike

Fall Surveys

Hello all
Summer is almost gone and the fall bird migration is starting. We will be conducting our usual fall surveys for Waterbirds, diurnal Raptors and Owls.

The Waterbird count starts August 20 at McGulpin Point, outside Mackinaw City continuing till Nov. 10. This count is done for 8 hours starting at sunrise everyday, except with heavy rain (thunderstorms), fog, or snow.

The Hawk Count starts on August 25 at Point LaBarbe outside Saint Ignace and continues till Nov. 14. The count will be conducted everyday with good weather conditions, generally from 9 am till 4 pm.

The Owl surveys start Sept. 20 continuing through Nov. 10 also at Point LaBarbe. Owl work will be done every night with good weather. Because of the type of work involved, attendance at the Owl survey station requires prior permission, contact Ed Pike, about attending.

For the Waterbird Count and Hawk Watch you are welcome any day counts are taking place. Bring a chair and your binoculars (some loaners are available), and learn about the migra

Looking at Waterbirds at McGulpin Point

Waterbirds in flight

Migration at Pt. LaBarbe

Banding at Pt. LaBarbe

Hope to see everyone at the counts.