Press Release, Spring Red-tailed Hawk Record, April 2016

Hawk Watch breaks world record

HawkWatch International announced that a world record in hawk migration was recently
broken by the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch. On April 13, more Red-tailed Hawks were seen
in a single day than at any time anywhere in the world. Said HawkWatch International,
“Congratulations to Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch on setting the single-day Red-tailed Hawk
count record with an amazing 4,966 individual migrants!!! This breaks the previous record of
4,591 set at Derby Hill, New York on April 11, 1995.”

Explained Kevin Georg, contracted hawk counter for MSRW, “The cold, snowy weather we
had in Mackinaw City in early April apparently held the migrating hawks downstate. When a
day of good weather finally came, the hawks headed north en masse, and many flew over the
hawk counting site near the Recreation Center.” MSRW already held the nation’s record for the
highest number of Red-tailed Hawks seen during a spring count period. So far in 2016, 12,123
have been tallied, 3,000 birds more than the previous record set in 2015. Concludes Georg,
“There’s no telling how high we will go this year. Seeing all these Red-tails is exciting for me,
right up there with our record number of golden eagles.”

Enjoying the non-stop hawk spectacle that day were several members of Straits Area Audubon
Society, including Cheboygan photographer Bruce Seeger. “So many birds were circling in the
air at once, it was magic. Besides red-tails with their normal brown and white plumage with a
bright red tail, I captured pictures of both an albino and a very dark-colored morph. This was a
day none of us will ever forget.”

Already, the hawk watch has recorded species seldom seen here. Eight Black Vultures, nine
Peregrine Falcons, one Gyrfalcon, and one Swainson’s hawk have passed over. Broad-winged
Hawks have just begun to head north and are expected to continue through early June.
Thousands of hawks choose to fly above Mackinaw City enroute to their nesting grounds, since
this is the narrowest place to cross the Straits of Mackinac. Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch
tracks the migration numbers and species; studies the movements of loons, grebes, ducks, and
other waterbirds in the Straits; and researches owl migration near Cheboygan. Guided field
trips occasionally are held, and the public is invited to visit the study sites in Mackinaw City
anytime in the coming several weeks. Visit www.mackinacraptorwatch or call 231-758-3319
for more information.

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