Talons Over Mackinac
Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch Newsletter
In the spring of 2020, although people weren’t moving around very much, raptors certainly were, flying to reach their summer nesting areas. The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch recorded more raptors flying through Mackinaw City than in any previous year. In addition, three species had their highest daily counts ever.
Now in its seventh year of formal counting using paid professional contractors, MSRW continues to build a valuable data collection – and to set and then break its own records.
- 65 Bald Eagles were tallied on May 26, versus the previous high single-day count of 58.
- 20,763 Broad-winged Hawks were tallied on May 1, compared to the previous high of 17,022.
- 733 Turkey Vultures were tallied on April 3, beating the previous high of 593.
The overall 2020 total of 73,365 raptors exceeds the previous high count, just last year in 2019, of 65,561 over slightly fewer hours of observation (469 hrs. in 2020 versus 473 hrs. in 2019).
In addition, MSRW and Mackinaw City still hold the nationwide record for Red-tailed Hawks (22,420 set in 2019), and the most Golden Eagles seen east of the Mississippi (374 in 2015).
The value in our data collection is extended through our membership in an international network of hawk count sites. Through collaboration with the Hawk Migration Association of North America, we gain expert help analyzing our data, and a nationwide context for understanding its significance. A new analysis, posted below, showcases these seven-year trends.