This fall (2019) MSRW is conducting preliminary research, tagging
Monarch Butterflies migrating through the Mackinac Straits. Bert Ebbers (MSRW Board member) is heading
the project and purchased the equipment and tags. Bert is investigating the habitat
used by Monarchs on Point LaBarbe. As
well as learning the techniques utilized in capturing and tagging Monarchs, and
the data to be collected. This project
will lead to the determination of the habitat use, migration period and
movement of Monarchs through the Straits.
August 31, the first day of the project, was a good Monarch
migration day at Point LaBarbe – we tagged 52 monarchs. This was a group effort, 5 people with nets
(Bert, Steve Baker, Ed Pike, Jack Kirby, John and Mary Fix), 2 people (Bert and
Ed Pike) tagging. At least a 1000 got
away untouched. Monarchs were crossing the Straits or getting ready to cross,
so mostly flying fast with migration on their minds. Only a few stopped
to feed on flowers which allowed easier capture.
Sept. 1 was an even better day; the experience from the
previous day allowed more Monarchs to be captured and tagged. Large numbers of Monarchs were in migration
across Point LaBarbe. A total of 73 were
tagged over a 3.5 hour period in the morning.
The first half of the morning was with Bert conducting the capture and
tagging alone, with help from 3 others (Ed Pike, John and Mary Fix) later in
We are planning to continue the tagging effort on several
more weekends, depending on the weather and numbers of Monarchs migrating.
Nesting season is well underway and the Am. Kestrels are, in a few cases, still sitting on eggs; while most are busy feeding young. Some nest boxes that were active in 2018 are empty, some that were empty in 2018 now have nests. Sadly a few reports have come in that, the Am. Kestrels appeared at the nest boxes this spring, but for unknown reasons left the area.
Some Little Traverse Conservancy nest boxes are again occupied with 3 nests totaling 14 nestlings banded so far.
Jim and Kathy Bricker have 2 nest boxes out in Cheboygan County which are occupied, one with 4 eggs and the other with 4 young which were banded on June 19.
For the third season, I am again working with Arnie Pokorzynski. Arnie is checking nest boxes he has placed in the Alpena County area over a number of years. Arnie thinks he has about 40 nest boxes scattered around the county. On June 20, I met Arnie and we returned to 7 nest boxes Arnie had found with young and banded 30 nestlings.
That makes a total of 48 nestlings and one adult female banded so far. Hopefully this next week we will be banding more nestlings.
Although the official Raptor count ended June 5; with the poor migration conditions for the last several days of the count I decided to conduct some further counts. On June 6 the weather cooperated for a good late migration and 599 raptors were counted. Mostly Broad-winged Hawks with a few Turkey Vultures and Red-tails. Bald Eagles were also moving north, mostly immatures and a few that appeared to be adults with a total of 78 counted.
On June 7 there were more raptors moving north with 225 counted. June 8 I could not get there till early afternoon and counted 45 in one hour, however they were not crossing the Straits. After 2 more days of bad weather I counted again on June11 ending the day with 121 raptors. These counts are posted on Hawk Count along with the full season count.
These later additions to the count give a total of 65,561 Raptors counted for the spring of 2019.
We are making plans for the fall count at Point LaBarbe from August 20 till Nov. 10, 2019. Hope to see you at the fall count. Ed Pike
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 Hawkcount.org.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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)