last day of the season

The season is over, but what a season ! 227 Golden Eagles, 44036 Broad-winged Hawks, 13091 Red-tailed Hawks 242 Rough-legged Hawks 1 Black Vulture, 1 Gyrfalcon, 1 Swainson’s Hawk and 1 Mississippi Kite! THANKS TO everybody who help out this year especially to Ed Pike and Steve Baker and to the rest of the gang Bruce and Dave, Jack and Bev  and a special thanks to Cathy Freebarin for letting me stay at her summer house! Hope to see you guys next year!

Snowy Owl on Little Traverse Bay

On the morning of May 29, 2018 I received a call that a Snowy Owl was on the Beach of Little Traverse Bay near Page Hill Rd. (Another report of a very late Snowy Owl that should be in the Arctic.) The Owl reportedly had something tangled around one foot. The Snowy was observed being harassed by Crows and Gulls; however it flew about 1/4 mile down the beach with something hanging from it’s foot.
We relocated the Snowy where it had landed near the base of some Cedar Trees just off the beach. I kept the tree trunks between myself and the snowy until close enough to net it.

It was carrying a large piece of fish skin in it’s foot which it dropped when netted. The Snowy appeared in good health; a second year bird (hatched last summer), probably a female. I banded the Snowy and held it until late afternoon, gave it a nice meal of chicken pieces and released it further north on Wilderness State Park. The Snowy flew off and disappeared behind some trees about one half a mile away. Hopefully it will be less likely to be disturbed by people walking the beach and will shortly leave for the Arctic.

Ed Pike with late Snowy Owl

right wing showing uniform plumage

over 60

With todays count it brought the count so far to over 60000 raptors one young golden eagle today brings the total at 226. With east winds tomorrow could be another good day.

2018 Waterbird Count Season Totals

Season Total

Snow/ Ross’s Goose – 1
Canada Goose – 1135
goose sp. – 28
Trumpeter Swan – 5
Mute Swan – 3
Wood Duck – 8
Gadwall – 0
American Wigeon – 2
American Black Duck – 14
Mallard – 139
Blue-winged Teal – 2
Northern Shoveler – 10
Northern Pintail – 17
Green-winged Teal – 4
Redhead – 90
Ring-necked Duck – 12
Greater/ Lesser Scaup – 95
Athya sp. – 117
Black Scoter – 2
Surf Scoter – 2
White-winged Scoter – 1089
scoter sp. – 25
Long-tailed Duck – 8295
Bufflehead – 84
Common Goldeneye – 288
Hooded Merganser – 4
Common Merganser – 1094
Red-breasted Merganser – 7837
merganser sp. – 297
duck sp. – 2318
Red-throated Loon – 2
Common Loon – 1156
loon sp. – 30
Horned Grebe – 222
Red-necked Grebe – 23
American White Pelican – 4
Double-crested Cormorant – 1628
Great Blue Heron – 19
Great Egret – 38
White-faced Ibis – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 157
Ring-billed Gull – 130
Herring Gull – 182
gull sp. – 3416
Caspian Tern – 8
Common Tern – 130
tern sp. – 3

Total waterbirds – 30,167

Notable sightings:

May 3rd: Before dawn the sky was filled with COLO (334). Had I not been in place before official sunrise I would have missed nearly 100 birds. Before anyone steals the thunder out of migration in the straits, I understand more loon are seen in an hour at Whitefish Point. Either way after sitting patiently through the last of the winter weather I enjoyed the spectacle thoroughly. 161 COLO flew through between 6:18 – 6:22AM. Another 117 flew through between 6:24 – 7:23AM. The straits were literally filled with COLO! HOGR (35) are increasing in numbers daily and again defying many peoples assumptions. These birds were all staged in close to McGulpin Point. Arriving well before dawn and walking as quietly as possible to the gazebo made it such that the birds stayed close to be counted and observed.

May 5th: (246) COLO continued through the straits today in a westerly direction. Today’s flight was different than Thursdays in that the birds were predominantly a steady trickle throughout the day versus the first hour after dawn. The busiest hours were 6:00AM (42), 7:00AM (69) and 8:00AM (56). (33) HOGR were the high count of loafing birds in the 9:00AM hour. (2) TRUS crossed high and moving north. It has been a long time since I had seen any swans.

May 5th: Big surprise for the day was (2) WFIB winging their way south. I noted them as two black birds off over the north side of the straits coming almost directly at me. They seemed like crows at a distance, but their flight style and spacing was definitively un – crow like. As they got to the middle of the straits they swung a little west of me and a long down curved bill came into view. I knew it was an ibis instantly as they are quite common back home in the west. The two birds ended up flying just to the west of me less than .25 mile. I could make out the glossy sheen on the feathers and very long bright red legs dragging behind them. I was surprised to see it was a rarity here in MI and was happy I payed attention to every detail as without the leg color it may have been hard to make the call between a GLIB and a WFIB.

May 7th: A nice surprise to the end of the count was AWPE (4) spotted about mid – channel winging north low over the water to the Pt. Labarbe vicinity.

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Welcome back raptor enthusiasts to another update for the spring owl banding blog!

The saw-whet migration is definitely coming to an end. Our recent nights of banding have been relatively slow, but we’ve continued to have pleasant weather most nights.

May 6th – 2 saw-whets

May 7th – 1 saw-whet. We also had some guests visit the banding station which I will get to later.

May 8th – 3 saw-whets, 1 barred owl

May 9th – no owls. We had to delay opening until midnight due to rain in the area.

May 10th – 1 saw-whet

May 11th – 2 saw-whets

As you can see from our totals we are on the tail end of the saw-whet owl spring migration. We did catch another barred owl on May 8th, a second year (SY) male. We have also surpassed last spring’s total of 175 saw-whets. This spring’s total is currently at 178.

On the night of May 7th we had a group of MSRW committee members and friends come out to the banding station to join us for a night of owl banding. We had great weather, clear skies, no wind and relatively warm temperatures (in the 40’s). Luckily on our second net check we caught a saw-whet (our only one of the night) for all to see up close. We demonstrated our banding procedures and released it to continue on its migration. Thanks to all those who came out, we certainly enjoyed having some guests for part of the night!

Thanks for checking in and be sure to come back for more updates!

-Matthew

Totals

Northern saw-whet owls: 178

Barred owls: 2

Long-eared owls: 1

Sharp-shinned hawks: 2