Red-tailed Hawk Movement Update: A new loop migration around Lake Michigan

Just like that another spring season is in the books. This spring marked the third year in which we were deploying transmitters on adult Red-tailed Hawks to further our understanding of this population’s migration and space use. Ten more birds are now wearing transmitters and we were excited to capture some interesting phenotypes including two dark-morph birds which I mentioned in my previous post. However, all those birds are offline now so in the meantime here is an update on some of our birds that we tagged in 2022.

Angell:  A beautiful abieticola, and one of two birds tagged during this project that we documented wintering in Indiana. Angell spent this past winter east of Indianapolis in an agricultural area with many open fields. She started migrating on April 12th and crossed the Straits on the 15th. Angell arrived back on her breeding grounds in Northern Quebec on April 28th. Her data show that she is on the same territory as last summer.

Bucatini: When we initially tagged Bucatini in 2022 he was aged to be a 2nd cycle bird, or in other words he was two years old. He survived this past winter and is now three. In the summer of 2022, the data suggested that Bucatini didn’t breed. The reason being is that his summer tacks showed him moving up and down a remote road in Northern Ontario. Typically, we assume that a breeding attempt has occurred when we see repeated visits to a localized spot where we’d expect the nest to be. We are excited to see if he attempts to breed for the first time this summer. Bucatini crossed the Straits this spring on May 23rd. He also is our first bird to have completed a loop migration involving Lake Michigan (see map). We have documented a few birds that loop around Lake Huron, but the fact that we have now seen two different loop migrations that involve the Straits is quite remarkable. The hawk icon denotes his last transmission (on map).

Mackinaw: Just like Bucatini, Mackinaw was a two-year-old last spring. He too survived this past winter, and he was also our first bird to winter in Ohio. Mackinaw spent last summer in Northern Quebec, and it looks as though he is heading back to same general area again. The hawk icon denotes his last transmission (on map).

Petosegay:  Petosegay bred in Northern Ontario last summer (see map). He then spent the winter in Michigan. However, instead of settling in a particular territory he moved around all winter to various location throughout southeastern Michigan. Petosegay crossed the Straits this spring on April 15th , and it looks as though he is en-route to the same territory from last summer. Petosegay crossed the Straits on April 12th in 2022. The hawk icon denotes his last transmission (on map).

Rapini: The king of the North! Well, maybe not, but he has bred the furthest North so far of all our tagged birds. Rapini spent the winter in Southern Michigan and crossed the Straits on April 13th. Last spring, he crossed on the 21st. It also appears that Rapini is heading back to his territory which is close to the border of Manitoba. The hawk icon denotes his last transmission (on map).

Voyageur: One of the largest females we have tagged during this project. Voyageur spent this past winter outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was the first bird to cross the Straits this spring way back on April 2nd. She too returned to her same breeding location arriving on April 7th . In 2022 she crossed the Straits on April 7th.

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