Author Archives: Jason Newton

Hawk Watch, June 4

Heavy fog and misting rain delayed the count all morning. It finally cleared around 1:00 PM and I got in an hour of watching before misting rain started again and reduced visibility. Unfortunately, no hawks moved by in that time. Tomorrow is the last day of the count for this season and the weather looks much more reasonable.

Hawk Watch, June 3

The Broad-wingeds continue to trickle in. It was pretty nice today despite a fairly strong east wind all day. Interestingly, it was the Turkey Vultures who hesitated to cross the Straits rather than Broad-wingeds. Thankfully, all the raptors crossed eventually. Hard to say how tomorrow will pan out with a northerly wind.

Turkey Vulture – 52
Bald Eagle – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 126

Common Loon – 1

Hawk Watch, June 1-2

With just a few days left of the count, there are still a handful of birds moving through. June 1 started quite nice but unexpected afternoon rain shut the modest movement down. Today was supposed to be west winds all day but instead it was northeasterly until late afternoon. This was a nice change of pace since the previous few days of west winds had been pushing birds way to the east side of Mackinaw City, mostly out of my view. Today the raptors were often right over head.

June 1
Turkey Vulture – 11
Broad-winged Hawk – 53
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

June 2
Turkey Vulture – 39
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 177
Red-tailed Hawk – 5
Merlin – 1

Hawk Watch, May 31

Unfortunately movement never picked up after the morning rain had stopped. I only managed a total of 2 Turkey Vultures. It’s really a shame because in the final days of the count, we can’t afford days like these if we want to improve our season totals. Tomorrow seems like it could be a decent day, hopefully the moderately strong winds don’t hurt the movement too much.

Turkey Vulture – 2

Hawk Count, May 30

As was the case yesterday, strong SW winds were not my friend. Raptors were seemingly being pushed to the eastern shoreline and that likely means many did not come into my view. Those that did were already very high and often drifting a bit southward from the northeast, creating a complicated counting situation. There was still a reasonably nice showing of raptors but not what I would have hoped from south winds. There have been a few big pushes of Broad-winged Hawks at a downstate hawkwatch recently, so I think there is still hope for us. Although tomorrow looks grim with rain in the forecast.

Turkey Vulture – 33
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 100
Red-tailed Hawk – 4

Hawk Watch, May 29

Today started with a bang but sadly fizzled out rather quick. The first hour had 229 Broad-winged Hawks go north, but this momentum died by 11:00 AM when it rained for about an hour. After the rain stopped, the only hawks that could be found were seen extremely high to the northeast, barely visible with binoculars and essentially invisible unless they were in front of a cloud. The gusty SW winds seemingly pushed all the birds to the lake shore and none were coming over my head. I can only imagine how many birds passed me by like this, given the good wind conditions. I’m hoping the raptors don’t repeat this again tomorrow, as the wind direction and speed is similar.

In the waterbird department, I once again saw decent sized flocks of migrant Canada Geese. Much less than yesterday, I still had around 130 geese migrating north.

Turkey Vulture – 52
Bald Eagle – 3
Broad-winged Hawk – 340
Red-tailed Hawk – 8
Merlin – 1

Common Loon – 1

Hawk Watch, May 28

Today felt more like a waterbird count than a hawk count. In the 5 hrs of counting I managed before it started raining, 991 Canada Geese flew over migrating north. I found this movement to be quite unusual for late May. I’m not sure what these geese are thinking. Perhaps they are nonbreeders moving together to a different summering ground, or perhaps these geese are still intending to attempt breeding. Other waterbirds included two Great Egrets flying southwest, two Great Blue Herons, a Common Merganser, and a Caspian Tern.

Hawk movement was pretty subdued, probably due to the impending rain. Most notable bird was a Northern Harrier. Another highlight was the local Merlin pair flying over calling. Tomorrow looks pretty good with the rather uncommon wind direction of WSW.

Turkey Vulture – 4
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 89
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

Hawk Watch, May 27

Today was the warmest day I’ve ever experienced in Mackinaw City, as far as I can recall. It was in the 70s most of the day with a light breeze. These conditions managed to produce the second best Broad-winged Hawk day of the season, thus far. It was relieving to see that there are still birds on the move. In past years, the hawk watch has had multiple day of 1000+ Broad-winged Hawks, but I have yet to break 1000 in a day.

Turkey Vulture – 48
Bald Eagle – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 568
Red-tailed Hawk – 13

Hawk Watch, May 24-26

May 24 and 25 were essentially rained out, but a few hours during clear periods netted some birds. May 26 was the first nice day in a while. There was also finally westerly winds. The movement wasn’t all that impressive in the end, but it was the best day since May 15. The forecast through the end of the count has a few days of potential rain, but hopefully the remaining nice days will fill out our low Broad-winged numbers.

The Killdeer nest that was at our primary hawkwatch site hatched either before or on May 22 and the entire family has left the area now.

May 24
Turkey Vulture – 1

May 25
Turkey Vulture – 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Broad-winged Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 1

May 26
Turkey Vulture – 45
Bald Eagle – 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
Broad-winged Hawk – 370
Red-tailed Hawk – 19

American White Pelican – 2

Hawk Watch, May 21-23

After 2 days of being rained around, I thought migrants might be bottled up and ready to move on Tuesday (May 23). Unfortunately, there was an immense fog  throughout the morning. It finally cleared around 12:30 and a modest number of birds passed by. The variety was pretty nice for this late in the season, including a Cooper’s Hawk.

May 21
Turkey Vulture – 2

May 22
Rained out

May 23
Turkey Vulture – 11
Osprey – 2
Bald Eagle – 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 53
Red-tailed Hawk – 5