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Over 10000+ Red-tailed hawk in the last few days . Number are deceasing with today’ s  total being 222, but Broad-winged Hawks are on the rise with 444 seen today. Had several dark-morph Red-tails. Also 85 Rough-legged were seen. One Great Egret came  by yesterday! Had a few more Golden Eagles bringing the total to 168 so far.

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Greetings once again fellow raptor enthusiasts! Welcome back to another update for the spring owl banding blog. The saw-whet owl migration is starting to pick back up in Cheboygan State Park!

When we opened the nets on the night of the 20th we were hoping to avoid another night of empty nets and we were not disappointed. We caught 3 saw-whets throughout the course of the night, but that wasn’t all we caught! On our final net check at dawn we walked up to our furthest set of nets and accidentally flushed a woodcock into the net! It was quite a surprise to have something other than an owl in the nets, but still a very cool experience.


Last night (21st) was even busier than the previous night with 12 saw-whets captured. This puts our total owl count at 103! To commemorate the event we snapped a picture of our 100th owl, a third-year (TY) female.

We often get asked if we catch owls that have already been banded elsewhere and the answer is yes! Although it is much more likely to catch an unbanded owl, we do catch some owls that already have bands. We call these owls “foreign retraps” which means that the owl was banded at a different banding station or was banded by MSRW in a previous year. It is important to collect data on every owl that we catch and band. However, it is equally, if not more, important to collect data on these foreign retrapped owls because it allows us to learn a great deal of information about them. We can learn where the owl was originally banded and how long ago it was banded. This gives us an idea of how far the owl traveled and where it traveled to. It can also gives us a confirmation of how old the owl is. For example, earlier this season we caught a saw-whet that was previously banded as a hatch year (the owl was in its first year of life) by the MSRW owl banders in 2014. This means that the owl is now 5 years old! How cool is that?! There are many different things that we can learn from these owls which is why it is very important that we continue to do this research every year.

This spring alone we have caught foreign retraps from the following locations:

Cedar Grove Hawk Research Station near Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Point La Barbe, Michigan (Fall MSRW owl banding location)

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory near Paradise, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula

Thanks for checking in and be sure to come back for more updates regarding the spring owl banding as well as updates from the hawk and waterbird counts!



Northern saw-whet owls-103

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Good afternoon fellow raptor enthusiasts! Welcome back to another update for the spring owl banding blog. It seems, for the moment anyway, that spring has FINALLY arrived here in the straits. I hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures as much as we are. Although most of our waking hours are spent checking nets at night Connor and I have some time at dawn and in the late afternoon to see our surroundings during the daylight hours. This is our time to make trips into town to stock up on groceries, connect to the internet and do some birding.

With that being said we’ve been somewhat stranded at the cabin since the last snowstorm came through. When we last left you it was Saturday the 14th and there were strong winds blowing through that prevented us from opening the nets that night. Then the following two nights, the 15th and 16th, the snowstorm rolled through which again prevented us from opening the nets and leaving the cabin. Tuesday came around and Ed Pike met us at the nearest plowed road (a 1.5 mile hike from the cabin) and drove us into town to buy some groceries and stop for some fast food. Upon returning to the cabin we attempted to open the nets for the first time since Friday the 13th, however the nets were still iced up so we couldn’t open them. We’d also like to give a shout out to Kathy Bricker and her husband Jim. They were kind enough to let us come over to their house and shower, do laundry, charge electronics and eat a meal. Thanks so much to Ed and Kathy and Jim for helping us out!

Finally on Wednesday (18th) the ice had melted off the nets and we were able to open for a full night of trapping. Unfortunately we didn’t catch any owls. Last night (19th) was more of the same, a full night of checking empty nets. However, around 2am while we were doing a net check we happened to look to Northwest to see the northern lights glimmering in the night sky! This was the first time either of us have seen the northern lights, so we grabbed our cameras and snapped a few photos to capture the event.

In the photo we’re looking Northwest with the lights on the far left being those of the Mackinaw Bridge.

With more pleasant weather on the way we’re hopeful that the saw-whets (and possibly long-ears) will start moving through again. Thanks for checking in and be sure to come back for more spring owl banding updates as well as updates from the hawk and waterbird counts!



Today at the hawk watch  we had a great day with 5360 RED-TAILED HAWKS !! Also  1 Northern Goshawk and 16 Rough_legged Hawks  and at least 10 dark-morph Red-tails and 21 Bald Eagles. Tomorrow wind look to be good so more,more,more!

2018 Spring Owl Banding Update

Greetings once again fellow raptor enthusiasts! Welcome to another owl banding blog update.

The saw-whet owl migration has been relatively slow lately. We didn’t catch any owls on the nights of April 8th and 9th. Then on the nights of April 10th, 11th and 12th we caught 4 owls each night and finally last night, April 13th, the nets remained empty once again.

With high winds and another spring snow storm on the way it is likely that we will keep the nets closed tonight and tomorrow night. However, with a full month of banding operations left we are hopeful that many more saw-whets will make their way through our area. We are still anticipating the arrival of the long-eared owls as they should make their way through later this month.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more owl banding updates!


northern saw-whet owls: 88


1st Osprey

Two days ago we had  our first Osprey spotted by Ed Pike! Good numbers of Turkey Vulture and Red-tailed Hawks are showing up with 1012 TVs and 806 Red-tails.

april 8

Cool day at the hawk watch , lighter winds from the WNW more sun and more birds.Thanks to all the visitors that came over the weekend for the Raptor Fest. Thanks also to Erich Doerr for writing for The St.Ignace News for the awesome article in their paper! Today we were treated to an awesome display as a Peregrine took down a blackbird in midair and then flew around over the watch showing off its catch! There were a total of 4 Peregrines today! Two immature Golden Eagles were also seen today with 80 Red-tailed Hawks.