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
64571 hawks were counted this year most so far. Best year for Rough-legged Hawks with 328, Kestrels about double with 81 Red-tailed Hawks with 22363 andNorthern Harriers with 134! Also four Swainson’s Hawks were seen.
Thanks To Ed Pike and Steve Baker for all your help made it alot easlier. A special thanks to Jo Cooley for the awesome apartment! Great season thanks to everybody who help out!
Greetings once again MSRW
followers and supporters. This blog will be the last blog I will be posting as
our spring 2019 owl season has come to an end and even though it is over, it
was a very successful season. Spring migration banding and surveys took place
from March 20 to May 8 2019. 40 nights of banding/surveys resulted in the
capture of 181 owls over the 50 day season; this included 156 newly banded
Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus)
of which 15 were foreign recaptures and 2 were local recaptures that were
originally banded by MSRW at Cheboygan State park in previous seasons, thus
recaptures totaled 17. Other owl captures included 3 Barred Owls (Strix varia) and 5 Long-eared Owls (Asio
otus) of which 1 was a foreign recapture. We were also able to band one
American Robin (Turdis migratorius)
and two Sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter
This spring season in comparison
is the second best spring season since 2015. The last four season’s totals are
as follows; in 2015 there were 132 owls captured, while 2016 yielded 82 owls,
2017 yielded 175 owls and 2018 totaled 182. Although this season was very
successful and we were open for 40 nights many of those nights were cut short
as we had to deal with persistent winds and precipitation that was intermittent
throughout the whole season.
It is sad once again to have to
leave Northern Michigan but as always it’s been amazing! Hopefully I will make
my way back up there again soon. But in the meantime as always stay classy
folks and keep your eyes to the sky!
Unfortunately our time hawk trapping in Mackinaw has ended. However that being said the last week of trapping produced some very interesting captures and good numbers. Since my last update on the 30th we were able to get in four more sessions of trapping before I departed Michigan on May 9th. Our first session occurred on May 3rd. This day was very slow except for one capture and no it wasn’t a red-tail hawk which is our most prevalent species captured but instead we caught a PEREGRINE FALCON!!! Now this was exciting not only because it was the first PEFA ever caught by MSRW but because it was already banded. Now mind you most Peregrines are already banded due to their population numbers being so low, therefore most breeding pairs and chicks are monitored and all banded. Now the guy we captured has quite the story. He was originally banded in June of 2015 as a nestling at the international bridge in Sault St. Marie and they named him Frank. Now I am not sure what side of the bridge he was on but since I’m Canadian I am of course bias and hope that this bird is a fellow Canuck like me! Anyways, Frank now currently resides on the Mackinaw Bridge and is reported to be nesting there which is awesome. I guess he decided to move to Northern Michigan like myself. Needless to say Frank is 4 years old now and all of us at MSRW hope he has a successful nesting season.
Out of the 4 trapping sessions that occurred during the last
week on two separate occasions we got skunked meaning we caught nothing which
was very disheartening but that’s the name of the game and good days come with
slow days. However on our last day we had a fantastic day which occurred on May
5th. We managed to capture 7
red-tailed hawks in just a few hours which was a great way to end the trapping
season. Out of these 7 tails 6 were second year birds and 1 was an adult with
the beautiful red tail. Also during my last two nights of owl banding I
passively caught 2 more Sharp-shinned hawks so they were added to this specific
diurnal raptor list! In conclusion I bid all you fine people of Northern Michigan
a fine farewell for now as I continue on to my next field job in Central
Illinois where I will be monitoring Eastern Whip-poor wills with the University
of Illinois over the summer and luckily enough my assistant from Cheboygan Chad
will be with me here as well… what a small world. Until next time stay classy
and hopefully I will be back in the North sooner rather then later!
5/9: Very odd morning, with a lot of species on the move, but mostly in small numbers, variable directions, and with several putting on the disappearing act after loafing for a while. Spotted sandpipers, of all things, were the heavy hitters today, with a minimum of 30 flying East, and often ditching out briefly on McGulpin Rock due to the strong winds and driving rain. With them were six killdeer, a mystery flock of passerines that looked a bit like phoebes, and another mystery passerine that could have been a robin. Two tree swallows also flying East, two common terns (alone, and separated by four hours) also headed East, and a lone Bonaparte’s headed West. Waterfowl were thin on the water, with a single loafing loon and horned grebe, and depressed numbers of red-breasted merg and long-tail (which themselves appeared to be headed East in scattered numbers). Lone greater scaup and small bufflehead flock flew in to loaf, but then disappeared. Single great blue heron also battling the winds Eastward, eventually flying around towards Mackinaw City.
It became a particularly odd afternoon as well, as on a short trip around the Headlands trails before the evening count, I came across an American bittern in the middle of the woods. No joke—it flushed from the trail beside a tiny mud puddle in the open oak/beech forest at the top of the hill; no doubt a fallout migrant caught up in the rain and dumped out by the descending fog in mid-afternoon. By far the weirdest place I’ve ever found one. FOY blackburnian warbler in a small foraging flock, and finally an abundance of spring ephemerals! Mostly trout lily and hepatica in the lower gallery forest, but a carpet of wild ramps at the top of the hill, with scattered squirrel corn, trillium, and ostrich fern fiddleheads. Only the hepatica were fully in bloom.
Evening count was misty and dour, but produced some good highlights. Roving flock of yellow-rumped and palm warblers passed West, a Caspian tern was present throughout the count, and snipe, bitterns, sora, Virginia rail, and pied-billed grebes were calling. Further out, a large flock of mainly tree swallows was swirling about in the fog, and included at least two barn swallows. Once again no tricolored (it doesn’t seem to show on days of inclement weather), but a great blue and a great egret showed well. Solitary sandpiper heard migrating Eastward right at the end of the count, and a pair of barred owls was calling back up in the swamp near the North Country Trail.
5/10: MASSIVE morning! Strong NW wind had whipped the lake into a frenzy, but was in just the right direction to release a torrent of migrants that had been backed up further South in Lake Huron. Big numbers of white-winged scoter (147, including large flocks of 16, 21, and 29), red-breasted merg (231), and long-tail (170), and a late surge of greater scaup (65, including one flock of 52). Common loons, horned grebes, and red-necked grebes continued to stream through (though in lower numbers than in previous weeks), but were joined by four red-throated loons, which finally showed well enough for me to call the ID (FOY were probably sometime this week, but logged as “loon sp.” due to poor viewing conditions, etc.). Other notable birds included a close-passing male black scoter (FOY) with a small white-winged scoter group, a pair of North-flying great blue herons, and a late-ish goldeneye pair. Good gull diversity, but small numbers, with three Bonaparte’s, one Caspian, and four Common terns beyond the usual ring-bills and herrings.
The biggest surprise of the day, however, was the passage of a highly unusual but expected (Kevin has been saying I’ll get one all spring!) maritime migrant—a parasitic/pomarine jaeger! The bird was between 0.5 and 0.75 miles off-shore, and was seen for about a minute flying NW. Currently in conversation with Adam Byrne, the regional reviewer, about how whether this bird is reportable to species level, but my initial impression was parasitic, and I’m still leaning that way (see eBird list for more lengthy discussion).
5/11: Pretty lackadaisical morning, with red-breasteds and long-tails loafing once more on glassy waters. A single passing red-throated loon was a nice highlight mid-morning, and I also picked out a tight raft of horned grebes off to the West, two of which were engaged in the beginnings of a breeding dance, which I’d never seen in person before. Lots of passerine stirrings in the woods behind the count, with the first Northern parula of the year, along with plentiful yellow-rumpeds, a few black-throated greens, a black-and-white, and a palm warbler.
Well, that does it for my time in Mackinaw! It’s been an exciting and rewarding season, and our intrepid avian adventurers have done their best to bring life back to the forests and marshes despite the late cold. Thanks to all the people involved with this organization and visiting along the way who made this a unique and truly memorable experience!
5/5: May has hit with a bang! Waterbirds relatively sparse in the morning, but a few windy periods stirred the long-tails and kicked up some white-winged scoter flocks, a few loons, and handful of late scaup. Sandhill crane flying South; heron flying North. Big influx of passerines last night, with two new warbler spp. on the spring—black-and-white and black-throated green—singing from the launch area. Ended the morning with 49 species at the point, most of them passerine.
Went for another trip on some French Farm Lake trails, and came across a massive warbler pocket at the West end in the short birch/oak woodland there, which this morning was shielded from the wind by the nearby dunes. At least 50 warblers in the near vicinity, with several dozen pine, palm, and yellow-rumped, a half-dozen black-throated green, a black-and-white, a waterthrush, and FOY black-throated blue and Nashville warblers. Two lesser scaup, 58 bufflehead, and all three merg species continue on the lake, along with local loon pairs and Caspian tern.
Pleasant evening, with plenty of activity among local marsh birds: calling bittern, sora, and pied-billed grebe, and red-wings flying everywhere and displaying emphatically now that the females are back. A late group of teal (4 green-wing and 3 blue-wing) were feeding among the flooded marsh grasses. Highlight once again was the tricolored heron, now making its third appearance with a flight straight out from where it went in yesterday, and once more around towards Cecil Bay.
5/6: Productive morning, with a cool NW breeze, rolling fog, and periodic rain. Good movement of loons West, including one that might have been a red-throat (my scope chose this exact inopportune moment to fog up until the bird had passed). 22 loafing horned grebes, a single red-necked grebe, and about 1000 long-tails along the length of the straits. Bumper day for gull/tern species, with several Bonaparte’s flocks, two Caspian terns, and six FOY common tern flying West in addition to the local ring-bills and herrings. Still waiting on the pelicans to arrive!
Evening count relatively quiet, but it was a good night for herons, notably, another visit from the tricolored. It flew in from the West, and after a quick bike towards its vanishing point, I found it in one of the densely-vegetated creek mouths near the road, where it flushed to a nearby perch and then out of sight. About a half-hour later it flew back West for the night. Two bitterns calling, one great blue, and one great egret, plus a local sandhill crane. Three late wigeon pairs were loafing for most of the count, and flew off West at sunset.
5/7: Very slow morning. Clear skies and variable winds (shifting ENE-WNW over the course of the morning) made for minimal flights, with only two scoter flocks, a handful of common loons, and a single Bonaparte’s flock making Westward movements.
By evening, things had really picked up! Tricolored heron made several appearances before flying off once more towards Cecil Bay at sunset. Two bitterns, the sora pair, and the pied-billed grebe pair were calling, and Darrell picked out a sedge wren (FOY) singing right behind the count location. Flyby osprey and three Caspian terns, plus a lone wood duck, a female hoodie (both getting late for this location), and a flock of long-tails waaaay out in the straits.
5/8: Cold morning with moderate East winds, and limited movement. Remarkably, no loons or grebes in flight (surely due to the wind direction, as these have nearly all flown West this season), but a good scoter showing, with 17 white-winged scoters, and a flyby surf scoter pair (FOY).
Evening count uneventful compared to the past few days, with no showing from the tricolored heron. Persistent East wind started driving in a drizzle early on that turned to steady rain by 8:50. There was a brief pocket of activity right at the start, as a harrier pair passed East along the marsh edge, along with a lone Caspian tern, but things died down after this.