Category Archives: Hawk Count 2017

Fall Hawk count summary 2017

It appears the fall Hawk Count has ended; I thought we would have a few more good days, but that has not happened. A few more observations may occur if there is a break in the weather and the skies clear over the Straits and the winds are not gusting 30 to 40 miles per hour. The last official day of counting was on Nov. 10. Since that date the weather has not cooperated. It has been cloudy, very windy or precipitating every day (some days it was clear south of Gaylord with heavy clouds over the Straits) which doesn’t lead to many raptors moving.
We feel we had a good preliminary count with a total of 241 hrs. of observation by Steve Baker and Ed Pike with assistance from Bruce Seeger, Jack and Bev Kirby, Sue Stewart, and Sue Bissell with many people stopping by to witness the migration. A number of comments were made that Point LaBarbe is a great place for a Hawk watch with many raptors flying low enough for good views. (There were also days when the Raptors looked like dots in the sky.) The count occurred from August 25 through Nov. 10. A total of 8719 individual Raptors were counted of 15 species (daily results can be found at Not many Broad-winged Hawks were observed which was expected since there are reports every fall of thousands of Broad-wings flying southwest along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the area east of Escanaba. We did count good numbers of Red-tails (2,451) and Sharp-shinned Hawks (1,985). On Oct. 11 a peak count occurred with 698 raptors counted. On Oct. 29 a one day record for Michigan in the fall; 86 Rough-legged Hawks were counted; with 46 counted on the 28 th giving a total fall count of 211 Rough-legs (our spring counts average 160 Rough-legged).
We hope to be able to continue the fall Hawk Count in the fall of 2018 conducting a full count possibly with a contract Hawk Counter.
Hope to see you for the spring 2018 Hawk Count at Mackinaw City.

Hawk Count Nov. 7

Today Ed Pike, Steve Baker and Bruce Seeger counted raptors with Jack and Bev Kirby stopping by for a visit. It was cold (28 at 8:30 and 38 by noon) with northwest winds, peaks of sunshine. Few raptors were flying with those that were flying were very high. We did see one Golden Eagle and a few Red-tails. 4 “V’s” of Sandhill Cranes flew south across the Straits. Still hoping for more Rough-legged Hawks and Golden Eagles; maybe a Snowy Owl.
Golden Eagle 1
Bald Eagle 3
Red-tailed Hawk 5
Unidentified Buteo 2
Sandhill Crane 69

Record day at Pt. Labarbe for Rough-legs. 86 on October 29!


A great day for buteos. Greeted by a hard overnight frost, the Hawks were slow to get moving, but by 10:30 the Red-shouldered Hawks quickly kettled up and moved south with 10 in view overhead at one time. Just before noon the Red-tails and Rough-legs dominated the migration and the counters were busy scanning the skies for the next 4 hours. Sunshine ruled the day (clouds had been forecast ) and the raptors took advantage of thermals and rose to tremendous heights before heading south over the Straits. Most afternoon birds were not visible without binoculars which meant constant scanning and some sore necks.
The Rough-legs were the stars of the day with a total of 86 tallied, the highest fall total ever in Michigan, and included 13 stunning dark morph birds. Other highlights were 415 Red-tails, 31 Red-shouldered, 2 Golden Eagles, and a very cooperative Peregrine Falcon which perched nearby for 15 minutes.

Hawk Count – Oct. 26

After a couple of days of windy rainy weather today seemed like it should be a good day for migration. Ed Pike, Steve Baker, Bruce Seeger, and Jack and Bev Kirby counted raptors migrating south across the Straits. It was partly cloudy at the start (10 am) and about 40 degrees with light winds from the east, becoming mostly cloudy after noon with the winds staying mostly light from the east till about 3:30. I expected to see some Sharpies moving right away and did not. The first raptor to fly south was a Red-tail. It appears the Sharpies may be about done heading south with only 2 seen today. With the east winds the Raptors were moving south along the west side of Point LaBarbe. After noon there was a good push of raptors mostly just visible to the west and very high. A few Red-shouldered and Rough-legged Hawks were seen and some Turkey Vultures. Between 12 and 3:30 many Red-tailed Hawks headed south. Very few were right over head; most were to the west with some kettles of 50 to 60 birds building and then heading south with more quickly filling in. It was a busy afternoon made easier with all the helpers keeping an eye on birds moving in and moving south. Big thanks to the helpers.
Totals are below:
Turkey Vulture 85
Golden Eagle 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Bald Eagle 5
Red-shouldered hawk 5
Red-tailed hawk 684
Rough-legged Hawk 2

Common Loon 1

Hawk Count – Oct. 21

Today Ed Pike counted raptors. Tim Reed stopped by on his way to Hawk Ridge. Cloudy with light winds from the southeast becoming almost calm around noon. When the winds calmed and the sun came out for a little while the Red-tails and Sharp-shinned Hawks moved in numbers then around 2 pm the winds picked up a little and they stopped moving. At the end several immature Bald Eagles came south.
Saw one Golden Eagle and another dark morph Red-tailed Hawk today.
Made for a great day of Hawk watching.
Turkey Vulture 22
Golden Eagle 1
N. Harrier 1
sharp-shinned Hawk 53
Bald Eagle 7
Red-tailed Hawk 109
Merlin 1

Monarch Butterfly 5

Hawk count – Oct. 20

Ed Pike counted raptors today, which turned out to be a slow day. It was sunny and warm with light winds from the south then the winds switched to the southwest increasing to 8 to 12 mph and switching to the west. Some Sharp-shinned Hawks and Red-tails moved south across the Straits. A dark morph Red-tailed moved south (a different bird due to plumage differences from yesterday). A small group of Turkey Vultures moved south and the rest seemed to go west. 2 Rough-legged Hawks moved south in the early afternoon.

Sat. is predicted to be warm with more south winds which may keep migration slow.
Total Hawks
Turkey Vulture 70
N. Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 91
Red-tailed hawk 39
Rough-legged Hawk 2
Am. Kestrel 1

Monarch Butterfly 1

Hawk Count – Oct. 19

Today Ed Pike counted raptor migrating south across the Straits. Steve Baker stopped by to help for 1.5 hrs. Visitors today included Al and Lucy Menk and Jack and Bev Kirby. It was very windy today at the Straits with winds from the west at 15 to 20 gusting to the 30. A large number of Raptors were present but few were crossing. Many nice looks at low flying Red-tails and Sharp-shinned Hawks were had by everyone. Some started across and then turned around coming back north. A dark morph Red-tail was seen again; probably the same one seen returning north yesterday afternoon. A few did manage to cross; totals below.
Turkey Vulture 11
Red-tailed Hawk 11

Hawk Count – Oct. 18

Today Ed Pike counted raptors crossing the Straits. Visitors at the site were Al and Lucy Menk and Art and Judy Frock. Early it was sunny with moderate south winds. A little after 10 am the Sharp-shinned Hawks started migrating across the Straits. A group of about 80 Turkey Vultures built up but few crossed. Around noon the group of TV’s built to over 100 but they still did not cross. Red-tailed Hawks started appearing a little after 11 am and the winds dropped off around 11:30 pm. At that time a number of Red-tails started migrating south across the Straits which continued until the winds switched to the SW and increased around 12:45 pm. After that there were quite a few Red-tails moving east and west but not crossing; a kettle appeared in the distance to the NNE with about 30 Red-tails. One dark morph Red-tail was seen which appeared to cross the Straits. About 20 minutes later a second dark morph Red-tail appeared from the north and headed south across the Straits; this was about the time the Red-tails stopped crossing and the second dark morph was seen coming back north along with several other Red-tails. A first sighting of a N. Goshawk today. Surprisingly no Rough-legged Hawks today.
Todays totals:
Turkey Vulture 82
Osprey 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 41
Northern Goshawk 1
Bald Eagle 2
Red-tailed Hawk 96

Monarch Butterfly 2

Hawk Count – Oct. 17

Today Ed Pike and Steve Baker counted Raptors with help from Susan Bissell. It was a sunny windy day with strong winds from the Southwest. there were many raptors moving around mostly moving east and west on the point waiting for a time to cross. Some were able to cross to the south and others attempted and returned to Point LaBarbe. It was a good day with a lot of Turkey Vultures and Red-tails. We observed another Dark Red-tail that did not cross the Straits even though it made 2 attempts. The Rough-legged Hawks again showed up with 2 dark morph birds, made for an interesting day. If the winds had slowed we probably would have seen a lot of Raptors crossing the Straits.
Totals below:
Turkey Vulture 209
N. Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 70
Red-tailed hawk 65
Rough-legged Hawk 5
Am. Kestrel 2

Hawk Count – Oct. 16

Today Ed Pike counted Raptors. It was an interesting day. Windy out of the SW in the morning with Turkey Vultures starting to move by 10 am even with the strong winds. Then around noon clouds moved in and it rained for an hour and half. then it cleared to partly cloudy and 15 minutes after it stopped raining the raptors started moving. The winds were lighter from the SW for 45 minutes then they stopped moving when the winds switched to the west and increased. After the rains stopped there was one dark morph Red-tail and 2 Rough-legged Hawks, one light and one dark phase. It appears the Rough-legged Hawks have started moving.
Turkey Vulture 198
N. Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 20
Bald Eagle 3
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 46
Rough-legged Hawk 2
Am. Kestrel 1
Peregrine Falcon 1