The first thing you probably hear when you get up to Fort Holmes are the American Crows and Common Ravens. They like to chase each other around, squawking, chirping, cackling, divebombing, and generally harassing each other and anything else that comes within their reach. All the noise can get tiresome after a while, and you tend to tune it out. However, don’t let your guard slip too much! Today one of my last good raptor sightings was all thanks to the noisy crows.
Mackinac Island has several bluff lines, dividing the island into levels. Fort Holmes sits on the very top level, awarding a wonderful view if you’re up for a steep hike. Below you are the tops of trees, where the occasional corvid will sit and scold his neighbors. Sometimes other birds will stop to roost for a bit. While searching the Western sky for distant raptors, a raucous of several crows alerted me to something behind and below me. A Golden Eagle lifted off from its perch and continued on its way, avoiding the pestering birds following it. Flying maybe 20 feet overhead, a Golden Eagle is magnificent, and this one was showing of its white wing patches, making it an immature bird.
The lesson here is pay attention to the noises that seem insignificant to raptors. Crows and Ravens can push a roosting raptor off its perch. A flock of Black-capped Chickadees can lead you to a roosting owl or smaller hawk. These things are especially true as we get more into breeding season and all birds are building and defending nests and fledglings.