Category Archives: Hawk Watch

A day at the Hawk Watch, Mackinaw City

My husband Jim and I were able to visit the Hawk Watch on Sunday April 5 and want to give you an armchair experience.  The day was mostly sunny, 42 degrees, with a light westerly breeze – just enough that we finally wised up and moved our lawn chairs to the EAST side of our car.   We had parked about 30 yards past the other two cars there and waved and shouted hello to the data-gatherers.

Shortly after our late-morning arrival, a kettle of hawks formed overhead.  The birds seemed to appear out of nowhere and gather in a big spiral.  We managed to spot about three dozen of the 1,315 Red-tailed Hawks counted by Kevin Georg that day.  So far, he has tallied 11,304 of these birds!  A highlight for us that morning was a leucistic (near-albino) Red-tail.  At first I thought it was a gull, but a closer look revealed its identity.  Steve Baker took a nice snapshot of it. 

Steve also made up this diagram of the identifying characteristics of soaring Red-tails.  Look for the shape, particularly the bulging ‘muscular’ wings. The long primary feathers, those that sometimes spread apart and look like fingers, are longer in the middle area of the wing, creating a gentle outward curve.  Plus, watch for the patagial marks, a dark color on the front of the wing.

Today just west of Pellston we saw a Red-tailed Hawk hunting in the woods.  Watch your area for these and for other inspiring avian sights as the birds migrate and begin their nesting cycles.  Remember that it’s easy to click on the MSRW Data tab, which takes you right to the table where Kevin posts the daily numbers.  You will discover when the first Black Vulture of the season was seen and can check on your other favorite raptors.  Stay safe and healthy this month. (submitted by Kathy Bricker)   

First big day at the Hawk Watch, Friday, March 27

Friday morning started out foggy with light easterly winds. Around 11 am the fog started to break up with some sun peaking out. Some Red-tails and Red-shouldereds started showing up, but the fog remained over the straits, not allowing them to cross. After 12 pm the fog lifted more, with easterly winds, although it remained foggy over the straits. The fog slowly settled down over the straits and the raptors started flying over the fog bank. The flight ended around 4 pm with the raptors settling down in the trees waiting for the next day of good weather to cross.

Totals for the day were: 13 Turkey Vultures, 11 Bald Eagles, 5 N. Harrier, 4 Sharp shinned, 1 N. Goshawk, 22 Red-shouldered, 453 Red-tailed, 55 Rough-legged, 10 Golden Eagles, and 1 Merlin; giving a total of 575 migrants. A great day at the Hawk Watch.

Great day at the Hawk Watch

Today with winds finally out of the northwest at 10 to 15 mph we thought it would be a good day for Golden Eagles. It was cold with the northwest to west winds; the skies cleared shortly after 11 am and temps were in the high 20’s F. Shortly after noon some Goldens started moving toward the straits, mostly 1 or 2 at a time. Between 2:30 and 3:30 there was a push of Golden Eagles, at one time there were 5 Goldens in view at once; with a total for the hour period of 30.

For the day the totals were 6 Bald Eagles, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph), and 38 Golden Eagles. Made for a great day of hawk watching. Four visitors stopped by in the afternoon and all saw Golden Eagles.

Spring 2020 Hawk Watch begins

Spring 2020 Hawk Watch begins

March 5, the first day of the count held heavy cloud cover and scattered snow showers with no Raptors in sight.

March 6 started out cloudy and became clear by noon. Winds were moderate out of the north; a day for strong flyers. A couple of Bald Eagles headed north and Golden Eagles trickled through. A total of 7 Golden Eagles passed overhead by 4 pm. All the Eagles were rather high and heading directly into the wind.

A good start to the Hawk Watch.

Hawk Count-October 29th Through November 3rd

10-29: Total-42; Turkey Vulture-2, Red-shouldered-8, Red-tailed-30, Rough-legged-2

10-30: Total-71; Bald Eagle-1, Red-shouldered-10, Red-tailed-56, Rough-legged-3, Golden Eagle-1

10-31: Total-7; Red-tailed-7

11-1: Total-235; Turkey Vulture-3, Bald Eagle-11, Harrier-1, Sharpie-3, Red-shouldered-4, Red-tailed-204, Rough-legged-8, Golden Eagle-1

11-2: Total-139; Bald Eagle-4, Sharpie-4, Red-shouldered-9, Red-tailed-112, Rough-legged-3, Golden Eagle-7

11-3: Total-101; Bald Eagle-4, Sharpie-1, Red-shouldered-24, Red-tailed-66, Rough-legged-3, Golden Eagle-2, Merlin-1

Hawk Count-October 22nd Through 28th

10-22: Total-151; Turkey Vulture-36, Sharp-shinned-101, Red-tailed-8, Rough-legged-6

10-23: Total-18; Turkey Vulture-1, Sharpie-14, Red-tailed-3

10-24: Total-125; Turkey Vulture-14, Bald Eagle-3, Sharpie-15, Red-shouldered-18, Red-tailed-73, Rough-legged-1, Kestrel-1

10-25: Total-114; Turkey Vulture-33, Bald Eagle-9, Harrier-1, Sharpie-3, Goshawk-2, Red-shouldered-19, Red-tailed-40, Rough-legged-3, Golden Eagle-3, Unknown Falcon-1

10-26: Total-203; Turkey Vulture-12, Bald Eagle-4, Sharpie-6, Goshawk-1, Red-shouldered-7, Red-tailed-167, Rough-legged-5, Golden Eagle-1

10-27: Total-64; Turkey Vulture-8, Bald Eagle-2, Harrier-1, Red-shouldered-17, Red-tailed-36

10-28: Total-21; Turkey Vulture-2, Red-shouldered-3, Red-tailed-16

Hawk Count-October 12th Through 16th

10-12: Total-376; Turkey Vulture-324, Bald Eagle-3, Northern Harrier-1, Sharp-shinned Hawk-34, Red-tailed Hawk-5, American Kestrel-7, Merlin-1, Peregrine Falcon-1

10-13: Rain, sleet, and hail throughout the day

10-14: Total-194; Turkey Vulture-88, Bald Eagle-5, Sharp-shinned-80, Cooper’s Hawk-1, Northern Goshawk-1, Broad-winged-1, Red-tailed-11, American Kestrel-4, Merlin-1, Peregrine-1, Unknown Buteo-1

10-15: Total-158; Turkey Vulture-136, Harrier-1, Sharpie-19, Red-tailed-2

10-16: Rain throughout the day

Hawk Count-October 6th Through 11th

10-6: Total-536; Turkey Vulture-294, Bald Eagle-34, Northern Harrier-2, Sharp-shinned Hawk-184, Red-tailed Hawk-13, American Kestrel-7, Peregrine Falcon-2

10-7: Total-597; Turkey Vulture-162, Bald Eagle-23, Northern Harrier-3, Sharp-shinned Hawk-368, Cooper’s Hawk-2, Red-tailed Hawk-31, American Kestrel-3, Merlin-3, Peregrine Falcon-2

10-8: Total-212; Turkey Vulture-94, Bald Eagle-8, Sharp-shinned Hawk-71, Broad-winged Hawk-1, Red-tailed Hawk-26, American Kestrel-7, Peregrine Falcon-2, Unknown Accipiter-1, Unknown Falcon-2

10-9: Total-164; Turkey Vulture-89, Bald Eagle-4, Sharp-shinned Hawk-62, Red-tailed Hawk-7, Merlin-1, Peregrine Falcon-1

10-10: Total-718; Turkey Vulture-281, Bald Eagle-7, Northern Harrier-1, Sharp-shinned Hawk-353, Cooper’s Hawk-2, Broad-winged Hawk-1, Red-tailed Hawk-54, Golden Eagle-1, American Kestrel-11, Merlin-1, Peregrine Falcon-6

10-11: Total-639; Turkey Vulture-201, Osprey-1, Northern Harrier-1, Sharp-shinned Hawk-424, Red-tailed Hawk-2, American Kestrel-9, Peregrine Falcon-1