Background

The Straits of Mackinac in Michigan forms a unique convergence of land and water. The tapering shape of the lower peninsula concentrates migrating birds at its northern tip in the spring as they await appropriate conditions to cross the Straits. To a lesser extent, Lakes Michigan and Huron tend to funnel migrants to fly south over the Straits in the fall. Hawks and owls are of particular concern to conservationists because of their position at the top of the food web. Their numbers and migration timing provide valuable insights into ecosystem conditions. Because of its geography, the Straits is one of the best places in the country for studying raptors in both the spring and fall migration seasons. Because of this national significance and the region’s significant visitation by tourists, it is an ideal place to educate the general public about this natural resource.