Fall Raptor Count: Week 1 & 2

Last Sunday, 9/3, marked two full weeks of MSRW’s 2023 fall raptor count. Things are off to a slow start, with several days of less than ideal weather conditions preventing all but the strongest of flyers from crossing the Straits. Nonetheless, the raptors are on the move!

Over the first two weeks, Calvin observed a total of 577 raptors crossing the Straits. Bald eagles made up the overwhelming majority, composing 44% of sightings. Still, we are observing a variety of other raptors as well. August 30th, one of the busiest days thus far, saw 71 birds across 10 species making their way across the Straits (turkey vulture, bald eagle, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, American kestrel, merlin, and peregrine falcon). We can expect to see many American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks, and broad-winged hawks in the early season, with the last of the red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, eagles, and northern goshawks crossing through as the migration comes to an end.

Total counts for the fall migration have varied from year-to-year, from as few as 8,731 in 2017 to as many as 20,010 in 2020, but we can all hope for a successful 2023 migration. We look forward to seeing you all, new faces and regular visitors, at the count site over the next three months. Happy counting!

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