In 2021, the count at Fort Holmes on Mackinac Island started on the 23rd of March. Now, after reaching that date, we can get a count of the birds that migrate through the island chain this early in the season.
As of the end of the count on the 22nd, I have seen a total of 213 birds. 37 golden eagles, 67 bald eagles, 47 red-shouldered hawks, and 47 red-tailed hawks. Already, I have seen about 2/3 of the number of golden eagles that they saw during the entire season in 2021 (59) and just over 2/3 of the number of red-shouldered hawks (68).
Of course, these numbers are not guaranteed to be the same, or even remotely close, to how many birds passed through before the 23rd last year or in years to come. However, I think that seeing this large of a chunk of birds this early in the season is reason enough to continue starting the count at Fort Holmes at the beginning of March.
The only downside to being up at the fort so early in March is the wicked and unpredictable weather. I have already had three no-count days due to winter storms and many days where the weather turned sour and had very little birds fly by. I think sticking it out in the weather is worth it to get a better, more accurate count of the birds that fly up the island chain during spring migration.
No matter how much I am not a fan of sticking it out in this nasty cold weather right now, I still think it is worth it to be here.