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Hawk Count-Opening Day at Pointe LaBarbe-August 20th

It was an excellent opener for the season, despite the mostly southwest winds. This year, we are starting 5 days earlier and ending 4 days earlier. In other words, the season will be from August 20th to November 10th, at the same location as last fall, Pointe LaBarbe. Last August, in just one week of counting, 339 raptors comprised of 12 species were tallied. Three consecutive days of 75 or more raptors, including one day with 10 raptor species, certainly exceeded expectations for so early in the season. Additionally, 4 species had (or tied) their seasonal high counts on August 29th alone (Osprey-3, Northern Harrier-10, Cooper’s Hawk-3, and Broad-winged Hawk-63).

buy viagra brand Raptors: It was rather incredible to reach isotretinoin in usa double-digit raptor species (10) on the first day of the count. However, just 6 of these species were actual migrants, with the other 4 species behaving like local birds. Bald Eagles were the definite highlight of the day, with 23 migrants recorded. The first good day for Bald Eagles last year wasn’t until August 31st, with 44 birds recorded, so it’s great to already be ahead of pace of last year’s excellent Bald Eagle total.

Other migrant raptors recorded today included: Turkey Vulture-2, Osprey-1, Sharp-shinned Hawk-3, Broad-winged Hawk-1, and Red-tailed Hawk-3. Other raptors seen today included Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Merlin.

Non-raptors: The clear highlight came yesterday, the 19th, in the form of a female Orchard Oriole. This is a rather rare bird in the Upper Peninsula, particularly in the fall, and will be one of the highlights of the season. Other highlights the past two days include Common Loon-2, Red-necked Grebe25, Pectoral Sandpiper-1, Solitary Sandpiper-4, Lesser Yellowlegs-2, Great Egret-1, Bank Swallow-3, Cliff Swallow-6, Gray Catbird-1, Brown Thrasher-1, Purple Finch-2, and moderate numbers of warblers.

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole

Monarchs: Only 2 were detected yesterday and just 9 today

Best of the next 5 days: The next three days are as good as one could hope for this early in the season-three days in a row of northerly winds. It’s hard to say which day is likely to be the best but it seems like Thursday, then Friday, and then Wednesday may be the order. Any, or all, of these days could see 75+ raptors as well as a dramatic increase in the number of Monarchs migrating past.

Banding Am. Kestrel nestlings

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.

1 unhatched egg and 4- 4 day old nestlings
Arnie getting nestlings from box

3 – 15 day old Am. Kestrel nestlings

Late Raptor migration

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

June 5 Last day

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!

Owl’s well that ends well…. That’s a Wrap Spring 2K19.. (Owl update)

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 striatus).

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!

Season Totals: Total Birds: 181

NSWO: 156

LEOW: 5 (1 Foreign Recap)


Recaptures: 17 (NSWO)

Hawk trapping season wrap up:


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.

Frank the Foreign Recapture Peregrine Falcon

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!

Diurnal Raptor Totals:

SSHA (Sharp-shinned hawk) – 9

RTHA (Red-tailed hawk) – 18

NOHA (Northern Harrier) – 1

MERL (Merlin) – 1

PEFA (Peregrine Falcon) – 1

Total Hawks/Falcons: 30

May 16

Yesterday had two Swainsons’ Hawks come by with the Broad-winged Hawks. And one Gyrfalcon flew south on May 13th. The total for the year so far is 57,697 raptors.

Big Late Push of Waterfowl Migrants

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. 

eBird list:

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.

eBird list:

Palm Warbler, Dingman Marsh

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).

eBird list:

Spring Beauty, Headlands Park

Comparatively quiet evening count, with Northerly winds stirring the marsh and keeping most birds quiet. Still a few buffleheads hanging about.

eBird list:

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.

eBird list:

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!

Sunset, Trails End Bay