Mackinaw Raptor Fest

Date

Due to COVID-19, future Mackinaw Raptor Fest events and dates have not been decided. Attendees of past Fests will be automatically notified with an update.

The Mackinaw Raptor Fest appeals to people who love to watch and learn about bird migration. Located in Mackinaw City, Michigan, and hosted by the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, the three-day event provides excellent views of migrating raptors, exciting sessions, and educational workshops.

Every year thousands of hawks, eagles, vultures, and owls follow Lakes Michigan and Huron’s coastlines, ending up at the Straits of Mackinac where they must cross a 5-mile expanse of water. To save energy, the birds use rising air drafts to lift them high in the air, and then they glide across the Straits. The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch inventories these birds and waterfowl as they migrate and promote their observation to the public.

Interpreters will be on hand all day to help you spot and identify the birds and share them. There is no charge for this activity.

Registration will be limited to 160 people, so sign up soon after notification!

What you’ll enjoy at the next Mackinaw Raptor Fest.

  • Camaraderie with old and new friends.
  • Meet and Greet Reception.
  • Hawk or Waterbird Watching with Interpreters all weekend, conditions permitting.
  • Educational booths and handouts from Birding Trails to land conservancies.
  • Superb indoor educational programs.
  • Silent Auction.
  • Merchandise featuring Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and identifying hawks in flight.
  • Live Raptor Program, Dinner, Student Scholarships, Wind Under Wings Award.
  • Field Trip Choices.

Please contact info@mackinacraptorwatch.org with any questions.

The Mackinaw Raptor Fest Committee strives toward the following goals:

  • Provide an entertaining and educational showcase to promote public awareness of the significance of Mackinaw City and the Straits of Mackinac to bird migration.
  • Promote knowledge and positive public attitudes towards raptors and waterbirds and their importance to the environment.
  • Bring regional, national, and international attention to the Straits of Mackinac.
  • Identify and encourage visitors, volunteers, including Board members, financial supporters for MSRW, and advocates for raptor conservation.
  • Generate ecotourism revenue for the Straits area and net proceeds for MSRW.

PLANNED 2020 Presenters

Keynote Speaker

David Cuthrell
David Cuthrell
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(Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group Presenter) is a conservation scientist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, part of MSU Extension. He has assisted with various rare species surveys throughout the state and has worked with Northern Goshawks and Red-shouldered Hawks for over two decades. Believing that “conservation requires knowledge and action,” David disseminates information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan DNR, and through publications, training workshops, and participation in many professional organizations. When he is not chasing bugs or sloshing through prairie fens, he enjoys his family and umpiring baseball.

Plenary Speaker

Josh Haas
Josh Haas
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Past President of Battle Creek Audubon, first developed a love for hawks working with the birds of prey at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. A hawk watching trip to Lake Erie Metropark opened his eyes to hawks in migration. Perplexed by seeing specks at a distance with an overwhelming itch to know what they were, he started learning from veteran hawk watchers and became hooked. He spent seven seasons helping the Detroit River Hawkwatch as a relief counter. His goal of making hawks accessible to everyone spawned the “Hawks on the Wing” instructional video on identifying hawks in flight. Josh co-owns Hawks at a Glance and Glances At Nature Photography, where he sells his work, teaches lessons and workshops, and leads bird photography trips around the Midwest.

Session Presenters

Nick Alioto
Nick Alioto
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Nick graduated from Bishops University in Quebec, Canada in 2016. He then trained at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory in Ontario, part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network on the north shore of Lake Superior. Nick worked as Assistant Owl Bander for MSRW in 2017, gaining more experience that advanced his career. In 2018, he managed both the passerine and owl research at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Center in northern Ontario. Nick returned to MSRW for two more owl seasons as Lead Bander and volunteered with diurnal raptor trapping and banding American Kestrel nestlings. In 2019, he worked for the University of Illinois on an Eastern Whip-poor-will project using GPS and VHF transmitters. He was the principal summer hawk trapper for Boise State's Intermountain Bird Observatory.
Andrew Dennhardt
Andrew Dennhardt
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Andrew is a doctoral student at Michigan State University who won a Student Scholarship to attend the 2019 Mackinaw Raptor Fest. He has studied raptors for >10 years at Southern Illinois University, various contract positions, and a Master’s student at West Virginia University. He has worked multiple times with peregrine falcons, northern spotted owls, northern goshawks, barn owls, osprey, and bald and golden eagles. He is a self-described quantitative population and community ecologist; he is eager to develop further his scientific communication and outreach skills and new raptor ecology, conservation, and management.
Russ Edmonds
Russ Edmonds
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Russ recently retired from a large manufacturing company where he worked as an Environmental Engineer. He attended his first hawk watch in 1975, has observed raptor migration at eight watch sites in the Great Lakes region since then, has volunteered at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth Minnesota for over 20 years, and has belonged to Hawk Migration Association of North America since 2004. Russ and his wife Ann are retiring from Indiana to a cabin on Brimley Bay in the UP, with plans to be more active with Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.
Sarah Gilmore
Sarah Gilmore
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Sarah, working with Michigan Avian Experience, has always called Michigan home. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan with a concentration in environmental education. Sarah has been teaching for a decade and having more fun on the job than ever. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation and, in 2015, was awarded the Region 4 "Outstanding New Interpreter Award" through the same organization. Working directly with injured non-releasable birds of prey for nearly a decade, Sarah has learned many lessons from these fantastic predators and delivered hundreds of raptor programs crisscrossing the state and beyond.
Netawn Kiogima
Netawn Kiogima
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Netawn Kiogima, Dodemak Naagdowin— Anishinaabe Clan System. Aanii, Mino Bimose Kwe ndizhnikaaz, Migizi ndodem. Odawa Waganakising ndonjibaa. Anishinaabe kwe ndaaw.

Hello, my Anishinaabe name is Good Walking Woman, and my birth name is Netawn Alice Kiogima. I am from the Bald Headed Eagle Clan. I come to you from the Land of the Crooked Tree, Biidaasige. I am an Anishinaabe, People of the Three Fires, Odawa woman, and I am the daughter of Archie Jr. and Regina Sr. Kiogima of Waganakising. I have been married for over 20 years to Robert Smith, Ojibwe, from LCO, Wisconsin. We have two beautiful children, and we are grandparents to our first amazing granddaughter this past Fall. As native people, we are related to our dodeman or clan. Traditionally, our clan system was our governing system, and everybody had a role. The whole community was involved, and we all took care of each other. I take my Eagle Clan role very seriously, and I would love to share with you that vital part of my life and how it is relevant to our society.

Miigwech (Thank You)
Francie Krawcke
Francie Krawcke
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Francie's Dad once asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Be happy was her response. Little did he know when she was to embark on over a 20-year journey that would take her to 35 different states and two countries teaching with birds of prey. With degrees from Northern Michigan University and Certified Interpretative Guide from the National Association of Interpretation, Francie is specially trained in theory and practice of interpretation and environmental education. She has presented at national and international conferences, teacher training workshops, developed environmental conservation curriculum, and had loads of fun. As Executive Director of Michigan Avian Experience, she enjoys sharing these birds to help others be happy.
Kim Nowack
Kim Nowack
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Kim P.E. received her Civil Engineering degree from Michigan Technological University in 1985 and immediately started her career with the Michigan Department of Transportation. In 2002, Kim accepted the position of Chief Engineer for the Mackinac Bridge Authority, where she was responsible for all engineering and maintenance oversight. She was the first woman to hold this position in the Bridge Authority’s 60+ year history. Kim was appointed to the area of Executive Director of the Mackinac Bridge in 2019 and is the first woman to hold this position. Kim is active in the International Cable Supported Bridge Owners Association and presents papers at international conferences. She serves on the Transportation Research Board, tasked with revising the federal guidelines for inspections of suspension bridge central cable systems. Kim has been inducted into the MTU Academy of Civil and Environmental Engineers.
Bill Parsons
Bill Parsons
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Bill works as the Inland Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the Natural Resource Department of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Bill grew up in Mason, MI, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Conservation from Central Michigan University. His education and experience with CMU began his exploration of northern Michigan fish and wildlife resources, launching a passion that continues today. Bill joined the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Natural Resource Department in 2002 and works as a biologist on many fish and wildlife projects in the 1836 Treaty Ceded Territory of Michigan. Bill lives in Bliss, MI, with his girlfriend and dogs and is an avid outdoorsman, fisherman, and hunter.
Bob Pettit
Bob Pettit
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Bob gained his love for spotting and counting birds from his mother and ornithologist father. He earned his Masters's degree in Ornithology from Central Michigan University and became a Biology Professor at Monroe County Community College. Bob co-founded the Erie Shores Birding Association, chaired the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory and the Hawk Migration Association of North America, and was president of the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory. He has volunteered as a raptor observer for over 30 years, amassing 1,500+ hours of observation, and has conducted workshops on hawk identification for more than 25 decades. For Bob, it's not about racking up a list of species. It's about camaraderie and giving a little something back, "seeing it, sharing it with other folks, and then sharing the data with the world to see the health of our environment."
Will Weber
Will Weber
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Will, Ph.D. co-founded the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory and served on the advisory committee of the Detroit River Hawk Watch. As a board member of the Hawk Migration Association of North America for more than two decades, he was instrumental in developing HMANA’s HawkCount database and the Raptor Population Index, which utilizes HawkCount data. He co-founded Journeys International, Inc., and has led more than 60 international nature and culture expeditions to Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific.

Interpreters + Field Trip Leaders

Brian Allen
Brian Allen
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Brian is an optometrist working in Manistee, MI, and is married to Maripat Allen with two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a grandson. He graduated from MSU and the Michigan College of Optometry. Brian volunteered in the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa, has traveled to 20 countries and loves birding the tropics and Michigan, especially under-birded regions. He was an editor to the American Birding Association Guide to Michigan and a member of the Michigan Bird Records Committee. Brian currently serves as an eBird reviewer for NW Michigan.
Steve Baker
Steve Baker
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Steve, a retired veterinarian from Indian River, MI, has observed raptor migration in the Straits of Mackinac since the early 1980s. He serves on the Board of Directors of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and has been the principal volunteer spring hawk counter since 2011 and has helped with waterbirds. Steve leads field trips and gives programs for several Audubon societies and land conservancies. He enjoys botanizing (especially for native orchids and ferns), kayaking, hiking, taking nature photographs, and learning about dragonflies.
Greg Bodker
Greg Bodker
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Greg has been an enthusiastic birder since 2006, combining his interest in nature and photography. Greg has led birding trips for Michigan Audubon and served on its Board of Directors for three years. He enjoys delivering birding and nature education presentations to audiences throughout Michigan and in Texas. Greg has birded in all of Michigan’s 83 counties and most of North America. He is excited to report he saw his 625th North American bird species, a Tufted Duck, in Southwest Michigan in 2019. Greg is a winner in Michigan Nature Association’s 2018 and 2019 photo contests.
Kathy Bricker
Kathy Bricker
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Kathy and her husband Jim, took courses and worked in water quality research at the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston throughout the 1970s. Kathy served as the first executive director of Little Traverse Conservancy before moving to Washington, D.C., for two decades, where she ended her working career at the Ocean Conservancy. They enjoy travel to remote places, especially in northern Canada, to see stars, birds, and wildlife. These experiences have provided materials for several films and slide shows that they offer, including Raving About Raptors. In 2005, Kathy and Jim retired to the Bricker family cottage on Burt Lake and to Cheboygan, where they volunteer to conserve the night sky and wildlife habitat.
Leonard Graf
Leonard Graf
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Leonard is a licensed bird bander who has birded on all seven continents. He brings over 25 years of experience as a part-time volunteer hawk and waterbird counter at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Leonard has spent more than 20 decades leading winter birding tours to Sault Ste. Marie and leads statewide birding trips for local Audubon clubs. He co-authored the annotated checklist "Birds of Leelanau County and Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore."
Bev Kirby
Bev Kirby
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Bev has long been an avid birder, volunteering with Michigan Audubon's Winter Bird Feeder Survey and Cornell University's Project Feederwatch since the beginning of both citizens' science programs. She volunteered and watched hawks at Mackinac Straits for many years before Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch was founded and continues as a volunteer greeter whenever she can. Bev worked at Birmingham Public School District for 35 years. A native Canadian, Bev is seldom seen without a smile on her face and her husband Jack by her side.
Dave Mayberry
Dave Mayberry
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Dave works in landscape design and execution. For this, he frequently travels to Mackinac Island, where he has observed the spring raptor migration for many years. Dave serves on the Board of Directors of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, which he co-founded. He created the public information kiosks at the hawk and owl research sites and managed MSRW’s merchandise effort.
Ed Pike
Ed Pike
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Ed, retired from Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, has conducted bird research for four decades. As a licensed bird bander, he studied Barn Swallows and Piping Plovers, serving on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Piping Plover Recovery Team and chairing the Michigan DNR's Piping Plover Recovery Team. Wanting to learn the importance of the Straits of Mackinac to raptors, he secured funding for the first spring hawk count in 2004 and has banded more than 2,000 owls of eight species, working both spring and fall migrations as a volunteer. Ed co-founded and chaired the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch.
Bruce Seeger
Bruce Seeger
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Bruce relocated to Cheboygan from downstate a decade ago. Interested in birds for most of his life, he joined Straits Area Audubon Society and participated in the annual Cheboygan Christmas Bird Counts. Seeger learned about the Hawk Count from an article in the Cheboygan Daily Tribune announcing that professional counter Kevin Georg was hired to do the first count. Seeger credits Kevin Georg for teaching him much about raptors and their identification during countless hours at the hawk watch over five years, including the magical day when nearly five thousand red-tail hawks were counted.

Join Us By Registering

Your payment via check avoids costly transaction fees. Choose “Check” on the drop-down menu under the Payment Method when you register.

Send checks to MSRW, P.O. Box 465, Petoskey, MI 49770.

NOTE: To sign up for field trips, after entering your Payment Method, Address and Other Information, scroll down to Additional Items to register and pay for Field Trips.

Student Scholarships

MSRW offers Mackinaw Raptor Fest scholarships to up to four qualified applicants. In 2019, Student Scholars were Andrew Dennhardt, Eliana Daum, Magdalena Fanning, and Jacob Van Patten. In 2018, Student Scholars were Kelsey Becraft and Maeve Klein.

Support the Student Scholarship fund to help a student attend the Mackinaw Raptor Fest for free. Businesses giving $300 or more to fund a full scholarship will receive Raptor Partner benefits. Unused donations carry forward into the Scholarship and Education Fund for future years. No donor may specify a particular recipient. Please note if you prefer your gift to remain anonymous.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations made by 5:00 PM on March 6, 2020, will receive a full refund less a $25 administration fee.

Cancellations made by 5:00 PM on March 20, 2020, will receive a 50% refund less a $25 administration fee.

No refunds can be made for cancellations after March 22, 2020, or no-shows.

Even if the weather prevents outdoor birding, indoor activities will be held. Mackinaw Raptor Fest reserves the right to cancel, change, or substitute an event if deemed necessary.

Inclement Weather Policy

Dress for 20 to 30 degrees colder along the lake and be prepared for freezing rain or snow. It is nearly always windy, so outer wind-proof layers, winter coats, and boots, warm hats and scarves are recommended. Bring a lawn chair for comfort while watching, binoculars, spotting scopes, or cameras.

Photography Notice

The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch is a non-profit organization created to study the migratory habits of raptors and waterfowl crossing the Straits of Mackinac. MSRW holds a public Mackinaw Raptor Fest and migratory bird research in the Straits area. Volunteer photographers take photos of activities at the Fest and other MSRW-sponsored events, including pictures of participants, in an on-going effort to spread awareness of the importance of this scientific work and encourage public participation.

No public photos will be used or sold for profit. Low-resolution images are occasionally on the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch Facebook Page, Instagram Page, or Websites. Pictures are included in press releases or print brochures.

By attending any MSRW event, you are giving consent for your photo to be taken and acknowledge that your image may appear in a photo taken at that event.

If you do not wish for your image to appear in any public photo, please inform us during check-in registration at the Fest or any other MSRW event. In the case of minor children, MSRW Event Photographers will approach parents and ask for explicit written permission before taking a photo.