Final 2014 Hawk Watch Report

Thank you for your participation and interest in hawk and owl migration and the corresponding public education in the Straits region. We hope you enjoy this full report on our spring hawk count and that you will be inspired to help again with that in 2015, or even help create the first-ever comprehensive owl survey in the region this fall.

From March 15 through June 4, 2014 the count of diurnal raptors reached 43,191, with more than 800 eagles. Professional hawk counter Kevin Georg and local volunteer experts counted for 481 hours and identified sixteen species, including the site’s first Ferruginous Hawk. This prairie species winters in California, Texas, and Mexico, breeding in brushy open country out west. Another western species that rarely ventures to Michigan, the Swainson’s Hawk, was counted on three days. Interestingly, we recently learned that a golden eagle tagged by a telemetry research team from West Virginia University in Morgantown passed Mackinaw City in the spring of 2013. It flew from West Virginia through Kentucky and Indiana and then through Michigan into Ontario toward James Bay and then back to Georgian Bay.

Both the number of birds and the observation time in 2014 roughly doubled the previous high year of 2013 when volunteers counted 22,488 raptors during 246 hours. Full data is on, of Hawk Migration Association of North America. So far as we know, more Red-tailed Hawks and Rough-legged Hawks were counted here than at any of the several hundred hawk count sites in the country. However, no black vultures appeared, although this southern species was seen during both of the last two years. Additional years of counting will help conservation biologists better understand and interpret migration patterns.

In addition to birds of prey, other large birds were tallied: 942 sandhill cranes, 231 common loons, and 13 white pelicans.

We targeted public education this year, with increased on-line and print media coverage to encourage attendance at the hawk watch. More than 350 visits were recorded, with visitors from nearly all Emmet and Cheboygan County communities as well as 29 other cities throughout Michigan (Alpena, Auburn Hills, Cadillac, Cedarville, Dewitt, Farmington Hills, Fenton, Flat Rock, Flint, Hancock, Kentwood, Kinross, Lansing, Lapeer, Lewiston, Luther, Manistique, Maple City, Maryville, Mason, National City, Oscoda, Pinckney, Rochester Hills, Rogers City, Tawas, Troy, Vulcan, and West Branch) and from the states of Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. Many children and two school groups were introduced to the migration phenomenon. Visit our website, for photos.

The hawk count cost slightly less the $6,600 budgeted, due mainly to the decision to erect a wind break rather than an open observation platform. Cash and in-kind contributors who enabled the success include Emmet County, the U.S. Inc. and MPS Foundations, five Audubon societies (Straits Area, Petoskey Regional, Michigan, Kalamazoo, and Grand Traverse), seven businesses (Darrow Excavating, Deering Tree Service, Hamilton Inn Select, Maple Ridge Hardwoods, National Office Products and Printing, Screen Graphics, and Wolverine Camps), and 23 individual founding supporters listed below.

Thank you for your interest, belief, and investment in Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch. It paid off in both great scientific research and public education. We invite you to help now with the 2014 fall owl migration survey. Its budget of $7,835, of which $5,000 is already pledged, will employ two people every suitable night from mid September to mid November. They will survey owls on the north side of Mackinac Straits. Public viewing and education will be available. For more information, contact Ed Pike at 231-758-3319. To give, please send your check to John Kafer, MSRW Treasurer Pro Tem, 9713 Manitou Lane, Levering, MI 49755, 231-330-4079.

Before October 1, you may also buy tickets to win a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted quilt featuring raptors, other birds and flowers. Call Alice MacFarland, 231-597-8173. Again, THANK YOU!

Final hawk count:

Bald Eagle 649 Golden Eagle 164 Osprey 122

Northern Harrier 82 Sharp-shinned Hawk 1836 Cooper’s Hawk 38

Northern Goshawk 5 Red-shouldered Hawk 58 Broad-winged Hawk 26709

Red-tailed Hawk 9702 Rough-legged Hawk 278 Ferruginous Hawk 1

Swainson’s Hawk 3 American Kestrel 37 Merlin 26

Turkey Vulture 3467 Peregrine Falcon 11 unknown buteo 3

Founding Individual Supporters:

Jim and Kathy Bricker Tom and Gloria Cadwalader

Jeff and Laurie Dykehouse Art and Judy Frock

Dale Giddings Tom Grahame

Bob Hess Dave and Ann Irish

Jim and Faye Johnston John and Mary Kafer

Judy Mich Diane Morand

Richard Naber Bob Petit

Sandy Planisek John Shreves

Esther Summers Dick Taylor

Mike VanLokeren Ron Wallin and Joann Leal

Nancy Waldron Phil and Trish Woollcott

Beverly Zelt  Anonymous (1)

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