2018 Schedule Coming Soon
Every year thousands of hawks, eagles, vultures, and owls follow the contours of Lakes Michigan and Huron, ending up at the Straits of Mackinac where they must cross a 5-mile expanse of water. To save energy, the birds use rising air drafts to lift them high in the air, and then they glide across the Straits.
The Mackinaw Straits Raptor Watch inventories these birds as well as waterfowl as they migrate and promotes their observation to the public. To see our work, along with photos and migrating numbers, visit our website at www.MackinacRaptorWatch.org.
Interpreters will be on hand all day to help you spot and identify the birds and share stories about them. There is no charge for this activity.
Kathy Bricker began attending Toledo Star and Sky Study Group monthly meetings when she was 9 years old. Although she pursued careers in biology, land conservation, and non-profit management and development rather than astronomy, she has shared her knowledge about constellations with many
groups since retiring to northern Michigan in 2006. A past president of both Petoskey Regional and Straits Area Audubon Societies, she serves as Secretary of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and presents programs to groups around Michigan about its work.
Josh Haas is President of Battle Creek Audubon and an entertaining speaker with a passion for all things birds. His specialties are hawk identification in flight and birding by ear. He has an extensive background counting migrating hawks for the Detroit River Hawkwatch and working with birds of prey at nature centers. He co-owns Glances At Nature Photography where he sells his work, teaches lessons and workshops, and leads bird photography trips around the Midwest.
Gene Jacobs owns a consulting firm, Raptor Services and the Linwood Springs Research Station near Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He offers bird survey services on the effects of transmission lines, pipelines, wind energy, and other projects. Gene conducts long-term research studies and has published at least 14 papers on several birds of prey, working with Project SNOWStorm, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and others. He teaches extensively, including the “Introduction to Raptor Field Techniques Workshop” and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Citizen-based Monitoring from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Gene attended the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.
Ed Pike, retired from Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, has conducted bird research for
four decades. As a licensed bird bander, he studied Barn Swallows and Piping Plovers, serving on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Piping Plover Recovery Team and chairing the D.N.R.'s Piping Plover Recovery Team. Wanting to learn the importance of the Straits of Mackinac to raptors, he secured funding for the first spring hawk count in 2004 and has banded more than 2,000 owls of eight species, working both spring and fall migrations as a volunteer. Ed co-founded and chairs the Mackinac Straits
Darrell Lawson, a computer programmer, ranks as one of the top Ebird participants in Michigan. He serves as president of Petoskey Regional Audubon Society and is on the governing committee of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch. Darrell leads many birding field trips and is committed to the development of birding trails in northern lower Michigan.
Dave Mayberry works in landscape design and execution. For this, he travels frequently to Mackinac Island where he has observed the spring raptor migration for many years. He serves on the governing committee of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and is responsible for creating the public information kiosks at the hawk and owl research sites.
Interpreters and Special Offering Leaders
Leonard Graf is a licensed bird bander who has birded on all seven continents. He brings with him over 25 years of experience as a part time volunteer hawk and waterbird counter at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Leonard has spent over 20 years leading winter birding tours to Sault Ste. Marie and is currently a tour leader for state wide birding trips for local Audubon clubs. He is also a co-author of the annotated checklist, “Birds of Leelanau County and Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.”
Bruce Seeger relocated to Cheboygan from downstate a decade ago. Interested in birds for most of his life, he joined Straits Area Audubon Society and participates in the annual Cheboygan Christmas Bird Counts. Seeger grew interested in the Hawk Count after reading an article in the Cheboygan Daily Tribune announcing that professional counter Kevin Georg was hired to do the first count. Seeger credits Kevin Georg for teaching him much about raptors and their identification during numerous hours at the hawk watch over four years, including the magical day when nearly five thousand red-tail hawks were counted.
Bob Pettit has led bird and raptor organizations for more than 30 years. He founded Erie Shores Birding Association and chaired both the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory and the Hawk Migration Association of North America. He is current president of the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory. Pettit earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees (biology/ornithology) from Central Michigan University and is Professor Emeritus at Monroe County Community College. For Pettit, birding is more than compiling a species list; it’s about camaraderie and giving something back. “It’s the feeling of sharing it with other folks, and the data with the world, so we can see the health of the environment.”
Glen McCune, wildlife artist and falconer, recently presented some of his art and birds at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey. “The Art of Seeing Birds: Original Paintings by Glen McCune” featured over 30 paintings of Michigan birds and their habitat. Glen has painted, rehabilitated, banded, and hunted with raptors for years. He says “For most of us, birds are our first experience with the natural world. Their aerial acrobatics are like magic. Some give rhythm to the seasons by their unwillingness to stay local. Birds are endlessly engaging and entertaining and awe-inspiring all at once, a kaleidoscope of sight and sound, an avian rainbow that keeps me constantly curious, constantly on alert to the next thing. They are a reminder to breath deep all that is here right now.”
Lynn Fraze began working as a writer with a Chicago ad agency one week after graduating from Miami University with a B.S. in Marketing. Subsequently, she spent three decades as a free-lance commercial photographer and videographer. In 2010 she took a photographic safari to Africa. She has relocated to northern Michigan where she focuses on her passion for wildlife photography, especially Bald Eagles and American Kestrels, and on protecting the Great Lakes.
Joseph Youngman is a 62 year old public works employee at Chassell Township in the Upper Peninsula and is a board member of Copper Country Audubon. He has been involved in the raptor counts at Keweenaw Peninsula’s Brockway Mountain since 2010. He has studied waterbird migration through Lake Superior since 1999. He’s done waterbird counts at ten different sites on the south shore of Lake Superior and at seven sites on the Canadian shore. With three co-authors he recently published Autumn waterbird migration over Lake Superior: Numbers, species and timing in The Journal of Great Lakes Research.
Bruce Murphy coordinates research and education at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Center in northeastern Ontario. They have monitored passerines since 1996 and banded owls since 2000. Of 91,000 birds banded, 7,906 are owls. Bruce thrives on the magic of “the bird in the hand moment” and has dedicated a great deal of his life to making that happen for as many people as possible. Bruce enjoys writing about birds and traveling to banding conferences to meet and learn from banders. He recently attended the International Bird Observatory conference in Cape May, New Jersey and looks forward to sharing that experience.