Dear hawk and nature enthusiasts,

American Robins have returned north in droves, joining Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and many other migrants.  These signs of spring bring joy at a time of concern about Coronavirus 2019. 

Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch of course changed our plans to expand research and education this spring.  Along with the popular Mackinaw Raptor Fest, we also canceled two Owl Banders, the new Mackinac Island Hawk Counter, and the Raptor Naturalist.  We paid each person part of their fee to compensate for the last-minute notice.

Fortunately, Kevin Georg (from Johnstown, Pennsylvania) had already settled in to count hawks by March 5.  He has recorded more than 111 Golden Eagles, along with 256 Red-tailed Hawks, our signature species.   
Kevin will continue the hawk research until June 5
Many guests already have come, and are still welcome at the hawk watch in Mackinaw City. For the coming few weeks, MSRW urges you to stay six feet from others, as experts will call out what birds are overhead.  Hotels and restaurants are closed at least until mid April, so please plan accordingly. 
Within days, MSRW will add unexpected new research, hawk banding.  Former MSRW Owl Researcher Nick Alioto (from Sunderland, Ontario) moved to Cheboygan in February to substitute teach in area schools until his summer job.  Instead, Nick will contract with MSRW to trap and band hawks full-time.  Banding reveals valuable information such as age, sex, and -- when birds are recovered -- where they come from and go.  Nick worked with Snowy Owls as a volunteer this winter, including a re-capture.  We just learned that this owl was banded in January 2014 at Detroit Metro Airport and released elsewhere, to ensure safety for airplane passengers while protecting birds. 

If you do not come to see the kettles or banded hawks in person, you still can enjoy the MSRW Migration Blog and Data at, while watching the return of migrants at your home feeders and parks.  Please be careful, especially if you are in a high risk health category for COVID-19.  

We look forward to seeing you when this threat passes and we all can travel and bird together again.
Copyright © 2020 Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, All rights reserved.

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