Recent sightings at the Waterbird Count.

In the past week, the main highlight would have to be the Long-tailed Ducks.  On the 20th, 172 were counted.  On the 21st, an amazing flight of 1,833 were counted.  18 of them flew east and all the rest were flying west.  In just the 3rd counting hour alone, 845 flew by.  It really was incredible to see single flocks of 100+ LTDU’s many times over.  Hopefully there will be another day or few that are similar to this during this fall season.

Several White-winged and a few Black Scoters have been added in the past few weeks too, as well as a decent number of Redheads.  Also on the 20th there was 1 Red-throated & 3 Common Loons that flew by.

Despite the wind appearing to be very favorable for migration today, it was a very inactive day for waterbird migration at McGulpin point compared to most of the days this week.  Likely the highlight today was a total of 3 Snow Buntings.

Another close up passerine was this White-breasted Nuthatch.  It’s nice to have some little birds keeping you company.

Below are the recent lists via eBird…

10/20 (A.M.)

10/20 (P.M.)

10/21

10/22

10/23

10/24

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I am happy to introduce our first netted critter of the season: an eastern whip-poor-will, met Monday night. This one hatched this spring, indicated by its set of juvenile flight feathers and wide buffy tinge to tail. I found it at the net array where the saw-whet owl audio lure is place – I wonder...
Fall 2019 owl and hawk banding
Hello again everyone! September 20th was the first night of my second season running the MSRW owl banding station. I am very glad to share what I see and hear here at Point la Barbe until the fall migration season comes to a close on November 10th. That said, it was an owl-less night. Dropping...
Hawk Count-September 15th Through 19th
Raptors: As expected, raptors have picked up significantly. In fact, they’ve been better than expected. After taking 26 days to tally the 1,000th raptor of the season (on September 14th), it was only 3 days later (September 17th), when the 2,000th raptor was tallied. Two days tallied over 300 raptors during the period, and there...
Hawk Count-September 11th Through 14th
Raptors: Raptors were slow until today, but not nearly as slow as anticipated, due in large part to significantly different weather than predicted. We are starting to get into the peak period, where raptors could move no matter what (apart from rain). That surely was the case today, when they significantly picked up, and the...
Hawk Count-September 5th Through 10th
Raptors: Raptors picked up significantly during the period. Of the 6 days, 3 were very poor and 3 were very good. In fact, just 3 days of counting, September 7th, 8th and 9th, made up more than 50% of the total raptors seen this season in 22 days of counting! Furthermore, one hour alone on...
Monarch Butterfly tagging
This fall (2019) MSRW is conducting preliminary research, tagging Monarch Butterflies migrating through the Mackinac Straits.  Bert Ebbers (MSRW Board member) is heading the project and purchased the equipment and tags. Bert is investigating the habitat used by Monarchs on Point LaBarbe.  As well as learning the techniques utilized in capturing and tagging Monarchs, and...
Hawk Count-August 30th Through September 4th
Raptors: Raptors have continued to remain slow through the period. The best day was on August 31st, with 50 individuals tallied, comprised of 8 species. The breakdown for that day was Turkey Vulture-6, Osprey-2, Bald Eagle-23, Northern Harrier-2, Sharp-shinned Hawk-5, Cooper’s Hawk-1, Broad-winged Hawk-6, and Red-tailed Hawk 5. Today (September 4th) had light, northwest winds,...
Hawk Count-August 26th Through 29th
Raptors: There’ve been two poor days and two good days. The good days have been completely dominated by Bald Eagles. August 27th tallied 33 Bald Eagles for the day, including 21 birds in a period of one hour. Today, August 29th, tallied 44 Bald Eagles, including 29 birds in one hour. Interestingly, these two days...
Hawk Count-August 21st Through 25th
Raptors: Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures have been steady and in fairly good, early season numbers. Everything else, not so much. The northerly winds predicted for 3 days straight didn’t occur for more than a few hours in a row, nor were they nearly as strong as predicted. The first Northern Harrier and Red-shouldered Hawk...
Thank You Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation
This past April the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation (PHSACF) awarded MSRW a $10,000 grant which was partly enabled by the Erickson Family Fund and the Ann K. Irish Charitable Fund. Also, the Marana Webber Tost Charitable Fund and Fund for the Community added another $1,000 to that amount. It has been inspiring to have...
Hawk Count-Opening Day at Pointe LaBarbe-August 20th
It was an excellent opener for the season, despite the mostly southwest winds. This year, we are starting 5 days earlier and ending 4 days earlier. In other words, the season will be from August 20th to November 10th, at the same location as last fall, Pointe LaBarbe. Last August, in just one week of...
Join us for this inspiring event!
Banding Am. Kestrel nestlings
Nesting season is well underway and the Am. Kestrels are, in a few cases, still sitting on eggs; while most are busy feeding young. Some nest boxes that were active in 2018 are empty, some that were empty in 2018 now have nests. Sadly a few reports have come in that, the Am. Kestrels appeared...
Late Raptor migration
Although the official Raptor count ended June 5; with the poor migration conditions for the last several days of the count I decided to conduct some further counts. On June 6 the weather cooperated for a good late migration and 599 raptors were counted. Mostly Broad-winged Hawks with a few Turkey Vultures and Red-tails. Bald...
June 5 Last day
64571 hawks were counted this year most so far. Best year for Rough-legged Hawks with 328, Kestrels about double with 81 Red-tailed Hawks with 22363 andNorthern Harriers with 134! Also four Swainson’s Hawks were seen. Thanks To Ed Pike and Steve Baker for all your help made it alot easlier. A special thanks to Jo...
Over 60000
So far 4 Swainsons’ Hawks have been seen 177 Golden Eagles this season have pass by. Under two weeks left in the season time flies!
Final Waterbird Report (updated)
Owl’s well that ends well…. That’s a Wrap Spring 2K19.. (Owl update)
Greetings once again MSRW followers and supporters. This blog will be the last blog I will be posting as our spring 2019 owl season has come to an end and even though it is over, it was a very successful season. Spring migration banding and surveys took place from March 20 to May 8 2019....
Hawk trapping season wrap up:
H Unfortunately our time hawk trapping in Mackinaw has ended. However that being said the last week of trapping produced some very interesting captures and good numbers. Since my last update on the 30th we were able to get in four more sessions of trapping before I departed Michigan on May 9th. Our first session...
May 16
Yesterday had two Swainsons’ Hawks come by with the Broad-winged Hawks. And one Gyrfalcon flew south on May 13th. The total for the year so far is 57,697 raptors.
Big Late Push of Waterfowl Migrants
5/9: Very odd morning, with a lot of species on the move, but mostly in small numbers, variable directions, and with several putting on the disappearing act after loafing for a while. Spotted sandpipers, of all things, were the heavy hitters today, with a minimum of 30 flying East, and often ditching out briefly on...
Marsh comes to life
5/5: May has hit with a bang! Waterbirds relatively sparse in the morning, but a few windy periods stirred the long-tails and kicked up some white-winged scoter flocks, a few loons, and handful of late scaup. Sandhill crane flying South; heron flying North. Big influx of passerines last night, with two new warbler spp. on...
may 8
Today with the approaching front bought 7 Golden Eagles 4 in the air at one time with 4 Rough-legged Hawks. 678 Broad-winged hawks were seen today bringing the total so far at 25831,the count for Golden Eagles are 168 with 325 Rough-legged Hawks. AlsoEd Pike spotted a dark-morph Broad-winded Hawk a few days ago being...
Tricolored returns!
5/2: Finally a more productive morning, with strong movements West. Slightly lighter winds than yesterday, but still out of the ESE, with light periodic rain and rolling banks of fog—essentially ideal duck conditions this season. Mysteriously, though, this wind direction meant that today essentially all fliers were riding with the wind—the opposite of most other...
Dour weather holds back waterbirds
4/29: Decent morning, finally with some lateral winds through the straits. These seemed to get the long-tails into more purposeful motion, with several hundred flying East through the morning, along with a few small white-winged scoter flocks, and the ever-present loons. Other species and all non-waterbirds in short supply.  eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55564621 Evening count dogged...
May 2
The last several day have been slow due to the weather. The last big day was on 4-27 during that day had a dark morph Broad-winged Hawk. So far this year the total number of raptors is 49066.
OWlTASTIC: Owl update x4
Hello everyone! If you have just finished reading my above blog on the diurnal raptor banding update and enjoyed it then you will for sure be interested in this blog post regarding what has been going on during the owl surveys/banding in Cheboygan State Park over the past week or so. Since I last left...
Trap City aka Mackinaw City: Hawk Update X2
Greetings yet again MSRW followers and supporters! It has been just over a week since my last blog regarding our raptor trapping side project and I thought now would be the perfect time to give everyone an update. Since the 23rd we have been able to make it over to Mackinaw on a few occasions...
Trails End Bay produces another rarity!
4/26: Another slow morning, with minimal breezes and periodic fog. A handful of ducks moved through, but the vast majority were loafing and calling on the still water—primarily long-tails and red-breasted mergs. Loons continued to move (they seem to be flying West every single day, regardless of wind and weather conditions), though in much smaller...
Foggy fallouts, eared grebe continues
4/23 Bumper morning, as dawn fog caused fallouts among early fliers, many of which ended up loafing relatively close in the straits. For the first time, movements were strong among all waterfowl groups, with multiple dabbler species, several bay ducks, and loons and grebes moving in the double figures. Nearly all were headed West, with...
Hawk Mania 2K19!
Greetings yet again fellow MSRW supporters and followers! Now I know what you may be thinking after reading the title to this blog and let me assure that YES we have started trapping diurnal raptors this past week as a side project apart from our regular owl banding duties! With the number of hawks that...
April 24, 13444
13444 Broad-winged Hawks came past the watch today, highest total for a single day this early! 7 Golden Eagles all young birds and 10 Rough-legged Hawks bringing the total so far this season to 307.
April 23
21146 red-tailed hawks seen so far with a record high of 7218 on 4-19. Also 134 Golden Eagles seen this year with most being immature this last few days. 297 Rough-legged Hawks were seen this year a high  for this site.
Eared Grebe continues! (still here as of 4/23)
4/20: Slow morning, with light winds tamping down migration. White-winged scoters and cormorants appeared to be the only waterbird species on the move, with large rafts of several hundred long-tails and red-breasted mergs waiting on the water’s surface a few miles out. Flickers again made a big Northward push, with 49 making the journey, and...
Waterbird Fallout
4/18: Densely foggy morning, with absolutely no breaks in the weather. Barely any birds besides a FOY (for the point) pied-billed grebe fishing briefly just offshore.  eBird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55088998 It appears most were waiting around Cheboygan, as around lunchtime I noticed that a good number of birds were moving just offshore of where we’re staying...
Spring of the Recaptures
S Hello once again followers and supporters of MSRW! I’m back again to give all you fine folks an update on what has been going on at the banding station this past week. I have to start by mentioning that it is starting to feel like spring at the park. That is because 95% of...
Slower days at McGulpin
4/16: Decent morning count. Mild breeze out of the Southeast had things feeling almost springlike—despite the remaining foot or so of snow up against the cedars! A good array of species, but not that much apparent migratory movement. Six loons, a redhead pair, a male wood duck, and quite a few small flocks of white-winged...
April 17
Today at Darrow’s there were 2651 Red-tails today with one immature Golden Eagle that flew right over head giving great looks also had 28 Rough-legged hawks . Day started out foggy but cleared in the afternoon opening the flood gates truely awesome.
Trails End Bay Open!
4/13: Well, apparently the birding powers-that-be heard yesterday’s lament that numbers were low, because today was a bumper day! Activity picked up just before sunrise, and waterfowl began to absolutely stream past. Red-breasted mergs and long-tails were by far the two most common ducks, with the mergs coming by within a mile in pairs or...
Duckinaw City: winds bring big species total
4/11: Startled up a woodcock upon driving in—county bird! Strong East-Southeast wind throughout the morning, which hovered around freezing. Bitter day, with depressed waterfowl migration probably due to wind and variable ice cover in the straits (at times around 50% as sheets were blown in). A few nice birds, though: another loon, all 14 cormorants...
April 10
1672 Red-tailed Hawks and 8 Golden eagles and also 32 Rough-legged Hawks were seen.The first Broad-winged and Peregrine came thru. 7136 Hawks were seen so far this season.
Passerines steal the show at Waterbird Count
4/9: Decent day. Fog continuing in the morning, but it lifted for a couple brief periods and activity  picked up. Aythya ducks were on the move, with several flocks of greater scaup and redhead flying both East and West, as well as some more distant unidentified flocks. Some flocks of white-winged scoters and a couple...
If Birds are Business then Business is Good!
If Birds are Business then Business is Good! Greetings yet again fellow MSRW followers and supporters! Now usually I would not post a blog so soon after just recently publishing one based on the fact that I like to leave a little time in-between to keep the readers wanting more, however there has been a...
Ducks in the Fog
4/6: Morning began in dense fog, and provided essentially a study in waterbirding by ear: a large raft of long-tails was calling, goldeneye could be heard in flight, common merg males were giving their breeding grunts, and a FOY male loon was calling, though his yodel call was repeatedly cut short. Visibility improved shortly, to...
And….. We’re off! Owl Mania 2k19
Greetings once again fellow MSRW supporters and followers! Since my last blog there has been a lot going on out here in Cheboygan and I’m here to catch all you fine folks up on the latest news. Brace yourself there is quite a lot… which is a good thing trust me! After starting off the...
Straits are clear!
Greetings, all! Figured now that I’m starting official waterbird counts at McGulpin, I should briefly introduce myself: I’m Jonah, a 22-yo bird nerd from Maine, and am hoping to bring my love of the sea-watch to bear on a season of inland-sea-watches! Find me on eBird here: https://ebird.org/profile/NjMzOTUy/US-MEor on any morning or evening in person...
Slow days continue for waterfowl at Cheboygan SP
3/31. Another day of almost nonexistent migration at Cheboygan SP. A bitter wind was roaring out of the North, only picking up after sunrise. What few birds were flying were visibly struggling—both gull species flew close to shore, and a pair of adult bald eagles looked almost like black vultures with their labored wingbeats. One...
Waterbirds slowed by wind and weather (Cheboygan SP)
3/29: A slow day off Cheboygan State Park, as a persistent NW wind offshore was working against migrants, and had additionally driven a large mass of ice sheets into the channel. Numbers were good in the first hour, especially among gulls, which turned up in the hundreds in the hour around sunrise, when the wind...
Migrants abound at Cheboygan SP (still waiting on straits)
3/27: First full morning at Cheboygan SP, and conditions were optimal, with considerable numbers and diversity of migrating waterfowl, raptors, and passerines, with some other surprises, too! Started at 7:15 to a rosy sunrise, glassy inshore waters now completely clear of ice floes, and a steady Southeasterly breeze scalloping the waters further out. Waterbirds were...
Spring is Here... Owl Style
Spring is here!  Hello once again fellow MSRW supporters and followers! My name is Nick Alioto and I will be the lead owl bander for the spring 2019 season. For those of you who do not know me let me give you a rundown of my experience here with MSRW as this is not my...
Straits Still Frozen
3/26: Recap of Days 1-9. Winter continues for Mackinaw waterfowl, as the straits remain locked beneath a foot of ice—in fact, the only waterfowl in Emmet County so far was a single Canada goose in a wet depression off of the road to Wilderness S.P. Hence, we’ve had to be a bit creative about finding...
19 Golden Eagles
19 Golden Eagles were seen today along with first of the season Kestrel,Goshawk and Cooper’s Hawk 23 Bald Eagles were also counted along with 2 light-morph Rough-legged Hawks also had a Northern Loggerhead Shrike
Spring migration trickles along
Spring migration has been trickling along.  On March 17 we had a good day with 40 Bald Eagles and 28 Golden Eagles and a few other Hawks for a total of 74 for the day.  Other days there have been just a few Raptors migrating.  On March 19 the first Turkey Vulture appeared.  Daily numbers...
Another quiet day at the Hawk Watch
A couple more days with mostly sunny skies and moderate winds. However the raptors have not made it this far north and the skies are mostly empty. A couple of local Bald Eagles make an appearance during the day and then move back to the south. Maybe there will be some migration in front of...
2019 Hawk Count begins
The spring 2019 Hawk Count officially began March 5. With partly sunny skies we had hoped for a few raptors, especially a Golden Eagle or 2 and some Red-tails. It seems migration is somewhat behind this year. With 1 to 2 feet of snow on the ground and daytime temperatures in the teens and nights...
Waterbird Count 11/6-11/10, plus season totals.
There was a pretty decent selection of birds for the last week of the count.  Redpolls have been around the area frequently, there have still been a few grebes to count, and the recent duck species are definitely more of the “winter duck” species.  A Great Black-backed Gull was seen on the 8th. Some noteworthy numbers...
Owl update: November 05-07
Owl banding at MSRW this fall has come to a close.  Since running the station from September 19 through November 07, we captured a total of 115 northern saw whet owls, 2 barred owls, and 1 long eared owl. 8 of the saw whet owls were already banded at other stations.  These are called foreign...
Waterbird Count November 1st-5th.
There still have been a few decent days for Long-tailed Duck movement, the 3rd in particular had a total of 205 of them.  There has now been an increase in the number of Bufflehead on the move; 98 of them were counted on the 4th.  In the past few days Horned and Red-necked Grebes have...
Owl update: October 31 - November 4
The season is coming to a close, with tonight potentially being the last night I open as cold rain and snowfall seem to be on the weather’s agenda until November 10, the official end date for owl banding at Point la Barbe. I’m not expecting to encounter any saw whet owl travelers tonight.  For the...
Waterbird count 10/27-10/31
The Long-tailed Ducks are still migrating through the area.  On the 27th there was another impressive day total of 1,178!  Only 6 were counted on the 29th, 57 on the 30th, and 157 on the 31st.  After kind of a low period, species diversity went back up today.  Today 8 Greater Scaup, 1 Black &...
Owl update: October 27 - 30
What could be under the handkerchief? It’s a big, beautiful red-tailed hawk!  Such fluff and prominent markings. Recently, Ed and I set up a special trapping set designed to lure and safely net diurnal raptors.  Right now, diurnal raptor trapping isn’t a dedicated operation with MSRW but perhaps it will be someday!  Even still, it’s...
Hawk Count-October 25th-30th-Golden Eagles
Raptors have slowed down quite a bit during the period, with the first half of it once again impacted by poor weather.  The 29th was by far the best day for raptors.  Thanks to Steve and Ed for covering on the 27th and 28th. 10-25: A drizzle in the morning gradually turned into rain at 1:00,...
Owl update: October 21 - 26
The night of the 21st was windy and extra no good with a southwest wind.  Not only is the southwest wind non-conducive to owl movement, it exposes my nets particularly well, rendering them less effective.  Regardless, 4 saw whets flew into the nets anyway!  Below is a noble cutie-pie. The night of the 22nd was...
Hello!
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I am Richard Couse, the new, and first, Executive Director here at the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch. I’m incredibly humbled and honored to have the opportunity to advance MSRW’s mission to conduct scientific studies of hawks and owls and waterfowl migrating through this region of northern...
Waterbird Count 10/25 & 10/26
The past two days have been rather slow.  This is however an interesting time of year when even on the unfavorable days Long-tailed Ducks and Rough-legged Hawks are found daily.  30 Long-tailed Ducks were counted yesterday and 91 today.  Whenever these birds think conditions are more to their liking again (probably any day now) there...
Hawk Count-October 20th-24th
The past 5 days has been rather nice for raptor migration, with no weather significantly impacting the count.  In fact, more than 1,000 raptors have passed through, or 15% of the season’s count.  The typical late-season raptors have been picking up quite a bit, especially Red-shouldered Hawks.  Seventy-four have been tallied in the last 5 days, with...
Recent sightings at the Waterbird Count.
In the past week, the main highlight would have to be the Long-tailed Ducks.  On the 20th, 172 were counted.  On the 21st, an amazing flight of 1,833 were counted.  18 of them flew east and all the rest were flying west.  In just the 3rd counting hour alone, 845 flew by.  It really was...
Owl update: October 16 - 20
Tuesday night, October 16, saw quite a bit of action at the set with 8 unbanded owls, as well as a hatchyear female who was banded at Hilliardton, Ont.  It’s wonderful that this bird is so inclined to get caught, because it tells us a great deal about her stop-by-stop pathway as she heads south....
Waterbird Count October 18th & 19th
Winter ducks are moving in.  The Long-tailed Duck numbers have been going up every day.  LTDU’s and scoters are passing McGulpin Point daily.  Also there has been an increase in Common Goldeneye & Buffleheads.  Highlights from the 18th include some Sanderlings, a total of 31 American Pipits that crossed the strait, and 7 Red-necked Grebes...
Hawk Count-October 15th-19th
The weather has continued to be rather neat and interesting for October, but not very conducive for raptor migration.  Despite these adverse conditions, raptors have still been attempting to migrate through the straits. On the 15th there was rain until 11:45.  From 11:45 until 12:45 there was no form of precipitation, and this was when...
Waterbird Count updates.
Numbers of ducks especially Scoters and Mergansers are on the rise.  Today in particular with the strong northwest wind, 1040 ducks were counted.  Of those, 418 were Red-breasted Mergansers, 97 Redhead, 106 White-winged Scoters, 1 for sure Black Scoter, & 39 Surf/Black Scoters.  Other recent highlights include a Bonaparte’s Gull on 10/11, a Long-tailed Duck...
Owl update: October 13 - 15
On the night of the 13th, our fellow owl banding neighbors from Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, Ceeanna and Tori, joined Ed and me for an evening around the fire.  As has been the trend this week, it was super windy; yet, throughout the night, the nets yielded 6 unbanded saw whet owls.  Half of these...
Hawk Count-October 9th-14th
The first half of October has continued to be plagued by bad weather for hawk migration.  On the 9th there was heavy fog till noon.  On the 10th there was heavy fog throughout the day and rain in the afternoon.  On the 11th there were steady 25 mph SW winds, frequently gusting to 35 mph,...
Owl update: October 12
Greetings All, On the night of the 12th, we once again had the pleasure of hosting a batch of wildlife techniques students from Sault College, but sadly the weather got fickle and slushy on us so we couldn’t open the nets.  Such is the tragic condition of weather-contingent field work, alas!   Regardless, I don’t think...
Update on the waterbird count.
As we have now entered October some species have become more common now and others seem to have tapered off.  White-winged Scoters are now found almost daily and Horned Grebes are now pretty regular.  Scaup numbers have also gone up recently.  As far as passerines go, American Pipits now roam the beach daily and will...
Owl update: October 2 - October 7
This past week, the weather has been most dreary and unconducive to saw-whet movement. But movement does seem to be picking up, on the clear nights at least. For the last three nights of opening the nets, I’ve caught an average of 8 owls, which is great considering how slow the first two weeks have...
Hawk Count-Past Few Weeks
Turkey Vultures have been by far the predominant raptor the past few weeks, with Sharpies in moderate numbers some days, and Peregrines putting on a nice show.  Highlights will be gone over on an individual species basis, except for those on October 2nd, which will be more detailed. Turkey Vulture-Notable counts include 161 on the...
Owl update: September 28 - October 1
September 28  Friday night was a real treat. Members of local Straits Area and Petoskey Regional Audobon Societies visited the station for a banding demonstration. Much fun and good company was had around the fire, and best yet, we got to see and learn about three saw-whet owls! I hope everyone went home dreaming of...
Waterbird Count - September 30, 2018 - Late Report
Hi Everyone, I filled in for Kyle last Sunday, but due to some website issues, I have not been able to type up this report until now. It was an interesting day.  The weather was very dull and dreary and rainy in the morning, as will be evident in the photographs.  The rain died down...
Skunks everywhere... but then?!
After a few nights of nothing but skunks, wind, and rain in the net, the weather turned favorable and finally elicited saw-whet owl movement. I caught 7 birds on the night of the 26th, with a solid mix of hatch year, second year, and after second year birds. Apparently this off-and-on stormy weather isn’t usual...
Waterbird Count 9/25-9/27
The 26th was the best of the last 3 days.  Highlights lately include the first Surf Scoter and Lincoln’s Sparrow of the season on the 25th, the highest duck count of the season so far on the 26th, and the first Horned Grebes of the season today. 968 ducks were counted on the 26th, however...
3883
Alas, the storm fronts never did fizzle out, but despite the less-than-ideal conditions, we did catch one saw-whet owl on the night of September 22nd. After examining old and new flight feathers on her wings, I aged this saw-whet to be an after second year (ASY), meaning she is at least 2.5 years old. Every...
Waterbird count 9/21-9/24
In the past 4 days there was a good turn out of terns, a day of decent duck diversity, and a day with winds that made 8 foot tall waves.  Some species have been new for the season, and others are becoming more numerous.  Nice to see the fall start to increase in action. Here...
Hawk Count Sept. 23
On Sunday Ed Pike and Steve Baker conducted the count; the weather was nice in the morning with light to moderate winds from the southwest, which switched to the southeast and east in the afternoon and increased. It started cool, then with the sun coming out became quite warm; the winds switched to the east...
Hawk Count and Other Goodies-September 18th-22nd
Raptors:  The forecast was incorrect for most of the last 5 days, but the raptor migration has continued to be great, with nearly 800 raptors in the last 5 days. September 18th:  Rather than having moderate NE winds, it was variable winds to light to west winds.  Raptors remained good though, with 175 tallied.  The biggest highlight was a...
And the first of the fall is...
A hatchyear female! Despite not being able to operate in full capacity due to high winds and only one net location established, two saw whets visited me at the station last night. Equipped with their unique band number, hopefully these birds will get caught by other banding stations as they migrate south, thereby continuing to...
Waterbird Count 9/18-9/20
On the 18th, things with wings of all categories were on the move, waterbirds, raptors, and the highest count of Monarch Butterflies I’ve had in a few weeks now.  The 19th was not as productive as the 18th, and today, a rainy and foggy day, even less so.  Friday afternoon into Saturday the winds are predicted to come...
Another saw whet season begins
Greetings all! My name is Maycee and I’ll be the owl bander on Point la Barbe for MSRW this fall. It’s been a long haul from my natal homeland of northern California to get here, and boy am I so, so excited to experience all the new sights and critters of the upper peninsula! The...
Hawk Count-September 15th-17th
Raptors:  Raptors have continued to be steady these past 3 days.  Hardly any wind on the 15th and 16th resulted in nearly every raptor being high, while the moderate SW winds today resulted in nearly every raptor low. The 15th had another nice day of diversity, with 10 raptor species recorded.  The bulk of these were Sharp-shinned Hawks...
Waterbird Count 9/17/2018 - Prequel of tomorrow?
Birds were moving today, and the winds still aren’t from the north like they are predicted to be starting tonight.  Based on how many birds were found today, tomorrow, as well as some of the other days this week might have the highest counts of this season so far. Here are today’s totals… Canada Goose –...
Waterbird Count 9/14 & 9/15
Not many birds were seen from McGulpin Point in the past 2 days that I would say were definitely migrating.  There have been a decent amount of warblers (especially Yellow-rumped), and other passerines moving around the woods south of McGulpin Point, but from this angle it’s hard to tell which ones are really on the...
Hawk Count and Woodpeckers-September 12th-14th
Raptors:  Raptors have been rather good the last 2 days and slowish on the 12th.  Highlights on the 12th included a lone Osprey, and a Peregrine Falcon that remained in the general area for most of the day, including making a really nice pass over the count site. Yesterday’s 202 raptors were dominated by 4 species: 58 Turkey Vultures, 21...
Waterbird Count September 11th-13th.
Wednesday had the highest count of Common Loons for a day this season so far.  The winds have predominately been southerly lately though making for some slow days.  Today came from the northeast for a while, and I noticed a good number of vultures and eagles flying south over McGulpin Point. Counts of migrants are below....
Hawk Count and Western Kingbird-September 11th
Raptors:  It was a decent day for raptors, with Sharp-shinned Hawks saving the count.  49 of the 55 raptors were Sharpies.  A fair amount of Sharpies were milling around during the last hour of the count, so there may be a nice, small push of them early tomorrow morning, and a good day for them overall. Non-raptors:  A Western Kingbird was...
Hawk Count-September 2nd through 10th
Thanks to Ed and Steve for covering for me, while I was downstate for several days. Raptors:  Raptors have been fairly good for the first third of September and rather great the last 2 days, considering the east winds.  Most noteworthy were 122 raptors on the 2nd, 225 raptors on the 9th, and 119 raptors today.  The 1,000th raptor of the season flew by...
Waterbird Count 9/8-9/10
The winds have been easterly in the past few days, which seems to have put the grebes on hold.  I have noticed more raptor movement from the McGulpin point side in the past few days, this includes large kettles of Turkey Vultures over the U.P. but only a small amount were detected flying across on...
Hawk count, Friday, Sept. 7
Friday was a nice day with light winds from the NW switching to the west, mostly sunny with bright blue skies making it difficult to spot high flying Raptors. It was a slow day with a few Raptors moving around and few crossing to the south. At one time there were 10 Bald Eagles in...
Waterbird Count September 5th, 6th, & 7th.
Well, if the cormorants weren’t truly on the move as of yet, they certainly were on the 6th as many flocks flew by.  The Red-necked Grebe numbers have gone up the past few days as well.  Typically in fall, the Red-necked Grebes pass this area going east.  Interestingly, most of the ones I’ve seen here...
Waterbird count 9/2 & 9/3
The past two days have been the best so far for Monarchs (at least from the McGulpin Point side) and September 3rd proved to be a decent Red-necked Grebe day.  Duck movement also was up on the 3rd due to northwest winds yesterday morning. Here are the totals of migrants counted… 9/2 Canada Goose –...
Hawk Count Sept. 3
The weather was good with cloudy to partly cloudy skies, temps in the 70s and light winds from the west, then switching to the southwest in the afternoon. A beautiful day to spend at Point LaBarbe. Raptors were seen scattered through the day in small numbers: Broad-winged Hawk 2 Turkey Vulture 28 Bald Eagle 9...
Hawk Count-September 1st
Raptors:  Scattered rain throughout most of the day led to only one raptor being tallied-a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Non-raptors:  A Solitary Sandpiper was the most interesting bird of the day. Monarchs: A total of 12 were tallied for the day. Best of the next 5 days:  Thursday looks like the best of the next 5 days, although Monday may be good as well.  Lots of rain...
Waterbird count 8/31/2018 & 9/1/2018
Hawk Count-August 31st
Raptors:  An unexpected push of 44 Bald Eagles was rather nice to see.  It was quite interesting the way they crossed the straits.  Most migrant Bald Eagles at hawk watches are direct in their flight and usually not accompanied by more than one eagle in the same field of view when crossing the hawk counting site...
Hawk Count and More Monarchs-August 30th
Raptors:  Raptors were quite high to start the day and remained so throughout the rest of the day.  It was another nice day though, with 100 raptors recorded.  Today was dominated by three species: Turkey Vulture (21), Sharp-shinned Hawk (22), and Broad-winged Hawk (40). Non-raptors:  The focus was on the Monarchs lifting off today, so non-raptors didn’t receive too much attention,...
Waterbird count 8/29/2018 & 8/30/2018
Yesterday morning was rainy with quickly decreasing visibility, later the rain stopped, but it remained cloudy all day.  I went out to count in the first and last few hours of daylight, but apparently the best time yesterday was the middle of the day. Migrants counted yesterday were… Red-breasted Merganser – 3 Common Loon –...
Hawk Count and Tons of Monarchs-August 29th
Once again rain started off the day and much longer than the forecast called for.  In fact, much of the forecasts for today were mostly wrong.  The rain showers lasted until 11:00, the winds were light, mostly with a westerly component to them, and there was a fog in the morning.  Despite the differences in...
Waterbird Count 8/28/2018
The highlight species from today would definitely be the 4 White-winged Scoters or the 3 Red-necked Grebes.  Although not migrating, another neat find was a family of 3 juvenile Common Mergansers with their mother that swam by. Migrating species counted… Canada Goose – 6 White-winged Scoter – 4 Common Loon – 10 Red-necked Grebe – 3 Double-crested...
Hawk Count-August 28th
Raptors: Another day of rain and moderate SW winds to start off hampered the raptor migration for most of today.  However, there was a brief period where the wind switched to the WNW and the sun peaked out for a bit.  The raptors took advantage of this weather change and a nice diversity of 6 species went through...
Hawk Count-August 27th
Raptors:  Scattered rain showers in the morning, followed by strong southwest winds throughout the afternoon led to a low yield in the raptor department today.  Highlights included an Osprey and Northern Harrier cruising over the straits as low as possible against the 17 mph winds.  The first Turkey Vultures were seen from the count site albeit not countable birds....
Waterbird Count 8/25/2018-8/27/2018
Hello everyone, My name is Kyle Wiktor, I will be the Waterbird counter for the Fall 2018 season at the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch.  I am from Illinois, and I’m looking forward to witnessing the fall migration here in northern Michigan. Here are the total counts of migrating species from this survey from the past 3...
Hawk Count-August 26th
Raptors: It was an interesting day for raptors.  Sometimes raptors can have a pulse or series of pulses of migration within a day of counting, but the pulse today was rather unique among my experience.  The first 4 hours of the count didn’t really have much moving in the raptor department, but all of a sudden,...
Hawk Count-Opening Day at Pointe LaBarbe-August 25th
Raptors: The weather didn’t exactly cooperate for the first day of the season, with frequent rain throughout most of the day and southerly winds.  Nonetheless, 6 raptor species were recorded, but only one bird was determined to be a migrant-a lone Sharp-shinned Hawk that flew south across the straits.  All of the expected falcons were recorded and...
Another slow day at the waterbird count
It seems the Red-necked Grebes moved on through last night. Apparently they stopped for the day and moved on; today I only found a group of 3 in flight mid-morning. More D.C. Cormorants were seen today with a couple of flocks in a V headed south. Still a trickle of C. Loons. Otherwise a slow...
Increased activity at McGulpin
Things picked up at the waterbird count today, Wed., Aug. 22. It was a cool 61, with strong winds from the north switching to the northwest and laying down slowly as the morning passed. Right after sunrise there were Red-necked Grebes flying all around on the horizon. They did not seem to be migrating, but...
Waterbird Count off to a slow start
The Waterbird count started yesterday on Aug. 20 with little fan fare. One nice thing about the fall start is the temperatures are warm. It started at 65 degrees rising to 76 around noon. The winds were light and variable under mostly cloudy conditions. The only problem was the hazy conditions that reduce visibility to...
Fall Surveys
Hello all Summer is almost gone and the fall bird migration is starting. We will be conducting our usual fall surveys for Waterbirds, diurnal Raptors and Owls. The Waterbird count starts August 20 at McGulpin Point, outside Mackinaw City continuing till Nov. 10. This count is done for 8 hours starting at sunrise everyday, except...
Banding Am. Kestrel chicks
Again this summer Ed Pike has been working with Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC), Arnie Pokorzynski, and a couple of individuals with Kestrel nesting boxes. We have been checking nest boxes and when the young are old enough, they are banded with USGS numbered bird bands. LTC has placed nest boxes on their properties in the...
last day of the season
The season is over, but what a season ! 227 Golden Eagles, 44036 Broad-winged Hawks, 13091 Red-tailed Hawks 242 Rough-legged Hawks 1 Black Vulture, 1 Gyrfalcon, 1 Swainson’s Hawk and 1 Mississippi Kite! THANKS TO everybody who help out this year especially to Ed Pike and Steve Baker and to the rest of the gang...
Press Release, Birds Set Spring Records, June 2018
BIRDS SET RECORDS THIS SPRING The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch (MSRW) hawk count set two records this year in tallying migrating birds in the Straits. The large tally is attributed to a delayed migration from bouts of poor flying conditions that stalled migration for many days. On May 22, counter Kevin Georg from Johnston, Pennsylvania...
one mississippi kite
On Saturday around 11:50 I saw an adult Mississippi Kite with 3 Broad-winged Hawks. Over 64,000 hawks so far,two days left to go!
Snowy Owl on Little Traverse Bay
On the morning of May 29, 2018 I received a call that a Snowy Owl was on the Beach of Little Traverse Bay near Page Hill Rd. (Another report of a very late Snowy Owl that should be in the Arctic.) The Owl reportedly had something tangled around one foot. The Snowy was observed being...
over 60
With todays count it brought the count so far to over 60000 raptors one young golden eagle today brings the total at 226. With east winds tomorrow could be another good day.
2018 Waterbird Count Season Totals
Season Total Snow/ Ross’s Goose – 1 Canada Goose – 1135 goose sp. – 28 Trumpeter Swan – 5 Mute Swan – 3 Wood Duck – 8 Gadwall – 0 American Wigeon – 2 American Black Duck – 14 Mallard – 139 Blue-winged Teal – 2 Northern Shoveler – 10 Northern Pintail – 17 Green-winged...
May 14th Summary
The May 14th Summary is here.
May 13th Summary
The May 13th checklist is here.
2018 Spring Owl Banding Update
Welcome back raptor enthusiasts to another update for the spring owl banding blog! The saw-whet migration is definitely coming to an end. Our recent nights of banding have been relatively slow, but we’ve continued to have pleasant weather most nights. May 6th – 2 saw-whets May 7th – 1 saw-whet. We also had some guests...
May 12th Checklist
May 12th checklist is here.
May 11th Checklist
May 11th checklist is here.
May 9th Summary
Today’s tally is posted on eBird here.
May 8th Waterbird Count Summary
Weather – Awesome conditions to observe waterbirds today. Completely calm and no wave action to the start of the count. Heat shimmer was on hand early though. 5C at the start of the count and I was able to work with my bare hands for the first time this season. Waterbird Notes – Todays flight...
May 7th Waterbird Count Summary
Weather – 1.7C at the start of the count today at 6:00AM. Superb waterbird observation weather today at McGulpin Point. Virtually no wind for the entire day, no wave action and heat shimmer didn’t become an issue until the last 1.5 hours of the count. Waterbird Notes – Surprisingly it wasn’t a busy flight as...
May 6th Waterbird Count Summary
Weather – Low nimbo – stratus clouds hung in the straits this morning. Temperature of 6.7C with no wind or wave action. Visibility was superb. It actually tried to rain a little and it seemed quite cold. It didn’t start to warm up until 9:30AM. By the end of the count it had warmed to...
2018 Spring Owl Banding Update
Good afternoon raptor enthusiasts! Welcome back to another quick update for the spring owl banding blog. Last night (May 5) was mostly clear with little to no wind. The spring peepers, wood frogs and leopard frogs were out in force as they have been for a good week now. We caught 5 new saw-whets bringing...
May 5th Waterbird Count Summary
Weather – A little haze to the start of the morning and a temperature of 5C. 12-19kph winds out of the north west.  Visibility to both the east and the west was severely limited to 8k on the east and less than 5k on the west. Winds were out of the west in the afternoon...
May 4th Waterbird Count Summary
Weather – Heavy rain started early this morning. Upon arrival at McGulpin Point I was able to make out the bridge and its lights in the distance. By dawn fog had rolled in and visibility was limited to 500 meters in any direction. I waited in the car until 8:30AM hoping the visibility would improve...
Swainson's Hawk
Today we had our first Swainson’s Hawk Steve Baker found it among hundreds of Broad-winged Hawks! Had 19 Golden Eagles all young birds! 16 Rough-legged Hawks ! And over 17000 Broad-winged Hawks! Thanks to everybody who help today ! We had over 24 visitors today which is awesome! Tomorrow looks like another good day
2018 Spring Owl Banding Update
Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to another update for the 2018 spring owl banding blog! Pleasant weather continues here in the straits (with the occasional rain shower or thunderstorm) and the saw-whets continue to migrate. MAY 2: 9 saw-whets, cloudy most of the night with no rain MAY 3: 4 saw-whets, we had to...