Schedule/Programs/Field Trips


Any day, any period of good flight weather

10 am to 4 pm

Visit the Hawk Watch to observe migrating raptors and learn how the count is conducted by a paid contractor. Be sure to wear super-warm clothes.


Friday April 3

4:30 to 6:30 pm

Evening Early Registration and Meet and Greet Reception, Holiday Inn Express

Saturday April 4


8:30 am

Mackinaw City School

Registration and Coffee


9:00 am

Plenary talk: "Flight Adaptations of Raptors" by Josh Haas


Plenary talk: “Flight Adaptations of Raptors” by Josh Haas. 

As predators and meat-eaters, raptors must first capture their prey.  How is that done and how easy is it?  This talk will wow you with the many adaptations that allow birds of prey to master their challenging lifestyle.  Special features include their body and wing shapes, weight, and feathering patterns.  These and other structural and physiological factors result in spectacular feats of flight by raptors, from tail chases to dives from great heights.


10:15 am

Four Breakout Session Choices


“Ecology of Wintering Eagles across the Upper Midwest: A New Monitoring Technique” by David Cuthrell.

Eastern Golden Eagles are known to migrate and winter throughout the Upper Midwest. However, little recent information has been acquired concerning their migration pathways, winter movements, and winter habitat use in Michigan.  Although Bald Eagles are more commonly observed, many of the same information gaps exist for this species. You will learn about their ecology as well as a camera-trapping technique which could provide critical information, and well see a variety of eagle photos captured by game cameras.


“Will Raptors Survive Climate Change?” by Will Weber.  

What can we learn about raptors’ ability to survive climate change in the geological past? How will our familiar, present-day species of raptors fare as the climate continues to warm? I will discuss how data from hawk watches like MSRW may help us make predictions and develop conservation efforts.


“Cultural Significance of Eagles to Odawa People” by Netawn Kiogima.  

I am from the Bald Headed Eagle Clan.  Traditionally, our clan system was our governing system and described our roles in the community.  I take my Eagle Clan role very serious and I would love to share with you that important part of my life and how it is relevant to our society.  Miigwech (thank you)


“Introduction to Raptor Migration in the Great Lakes “ by Russell Edmonds.

An introduction to Raptor Migration in the Great Lakes region geared toward new hawk watchers.  Why are migrating raptors concentrated at Mackinaw in the Spring and at Detroit in the Fall?  What other hawk watch sites are in the Great Lakes area?  Where can I find historical data to help plan my next hawk watching trip?  How is the migration data collected at these sites used and how can it help with better understanding hawks and how to protect them?  This talk provides an introduction to hawk migration in the region, the tools used to record migration data, and a greater appreciation for the efforts of hawk watchers around the Great Lakes. 



11:15 am

Four Breakout Session Choices


“Hawk Watching: A Novice-Friendly Hawk Identification Experience” by Bob Pettit.  

Hawk watching is a thrilling type of birdwatching. Learn to identify hawks in flight during migration. This workshop highlights using binoculars, recognizing hawk types, learning flight characters, discovering flight ID clues, and comprehending migration mechanics. You will receive ample handouts, learn how raptors behave in flight, and hear about experiencing raptor migration. You will become more skilled in hawk identification and better appreciate the migration, beauty, and role of birds of prey.


“Bald Eagle Research and Monitoring in Northern Michigan, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians” by Bill Parsons.

The talk will describe the extensive monitoring done on Bald Eagle nests, especially in Emmet and Cheboygan Counties.   The Natural Resource Department of the Little Traverse Bay Bands measures both occupancy and productivity.  You will also hear updates about telemetry data and seasonal movements of regional Bald Eagles.


“Owls of the Straits of Mackinac” by Nick Alioto.

When the hawks roost at dusk, owls take over the migration flyways.  Learn about these birds and the information gleaned from many years of spring and fall banding studies.  Nick Alioto will share stories from banding owls both here and in Ontario, and how he combines the night shift working with owls and his day-time passion of trapping hawks.


“Estimating Population Size of Golden Eagles using Pennsylvania Hawk Count Data and Statistical Models” by Andrew Dennhardt.


Estimating population size is fundamental to the conservation and


management of rare species. This talk reveals how hawk-count data combined with computer models yielded estimates of Golden Eagle population size in eastern North America. Dennhardt’s Master's thesis work revealed that 24% of Golden Eagles migrating through Pennsylvania in autumn would fly close enough to a hawk-count site to be counted.  On average, approximately 55% of such eagles would be actually detected by hawk-counters. His research concluded that 5,000, give or take 1,300, Golden Eagles migrate through Pennsylvania in autumn. This analysis provides the first quantitative estimates of the size of the eastern Golden Eagle population, and it demonstrates a unique approach that uses citizen-science (hawk-count) data and statistical models of migration to address a pressing conservation goal—population size estimation.


12:00 pm

Lunch at restaurant of your choice


1:45  pm

Keynote Presentation

“Status and Nesting Ecology of Red-shouldered Hawks in Northern Michigan" by David Cuthrell.

In the early part of the 20th century the Red-shouldered Hawk was common in southern Michigan.  Since then, their breeding range shifted away from southern Michigan.  We conducted nest productivity surveys for 8 years to assess the status of the Red-shouldered Hawk population in northern Michigan.  Over 500 nests were studied for productivity measures such as nest-site fidelity, nest success, average brood size, and nest predation.  We found that nesting territories had a high re-occupancy rate between years, and that territories tended to be evenly distributed roughly a mile apart in areas with large contiguous tracts of suitable forest habitat.  Nest productivity was high, with 65% of nests successfully producing at least one chick that fledged.


3:00 pm

Four Breakout Session Choices


“Hawks on the Wing: Tip of Photographing Hawks in Flight” by Josh Haas. 

Hawks in flight pose big challenges to aspiring bird photographers.  Tricky lighting and erratic raptors often seem like they want nothing more than to avoid the camera.  Josh Haas will share some of his favorite techniques for capturing inspiring images of hawks in flight and getting around tracking and focus issues.  He will share his favorite spots for the best photo opportunities and tell how to prepare for your days of photographing hawks.


“Mackinac Bridge Then and Now” by Kim Nowack.

In this presentation, you will learn about the history of Straits area transportation and the planning, design, and building of the Mackinac Bridge more than 60 years ago.  Ms. Nowack will describe the extensive short and long-range plans for maintenance on the bridge for safety and structural purposes.  She will also cover bridge-related current events.


“Introduction to Raptor Migration in the Great Lakes “ by Russell Edmonds.

An introduction to Raptor Migration in the Great Lakes region geared toward new hawk watchers.  Why are migrating raptors concentrated at Mackinac in the Spring and at Detroit in the Fall?  What other hawk watch sites are in the Great Lakes area?  Where can I find historical data to help plan my next hawk watching trip?  How is the migration data collected at these sites used and how can it help with better understanding hawks and how to protect them?  This talk provides an introduction to hawk migration in the region, the tools used to record migration data, and a greater appreciation for the efforts of hawk watchers around the Great Lakes. 


“Will Raptors Survive Climate Change?” by Will Weber.  

What can we learn about raptors’ ability to survive climate change in the geological past? How will our familiar, present-day species of raptors fare as the climate continues to warm? Weber will discuss how data from hawk watches like MSRW may help us make predictions and develop conservation efforts.



4:30 pm

"Michigan Raptors: Live Birds of Prey" (at St. Anthony’s Church).

Survival at its finest.  Meet live, non-releasable birds of prey that can be identified right here at the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch.  The birds will reveal their remarkable survival adaptations and behaviors. There will be plenty of time to discuss habitat needs, conservation status and special identifying features.  Visitors will also have the opportunity to feel feathers and explore skulls and other bird parts like feet and bones.  Bring your cameras to capture their beauty.


5:45  pm

Vegetarian Pizza, Salad, and Chicken-Vegetable Pasta Buffet,

with 2 alcoholic beverages


Silent Auction


Wind Under Wings Award


Friday April 3


8:00 am to 4:00 pm FIELD TRIP

($20 per person)

Late Winter Birding in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, led by Leonard Graf.


Limit 16 people. 


Meet at 8:00 am in the Holiday Inn Express Lobby from which we will carpool to the Upper Peninsula.  We will search for Snowy Owls, Northern Shrikes, Rough-legged Hawks, and other winter migrants and residents through Mackinac County.  We will eat lunch at a restaurant before returning to Mackinaw City. 

 

7 to 10 pm FIELD TRIP

($20 per person)

Owl Banding and Winter Constellations and Birdy Myths at Headlands Dark Sky Park, led by Ed Pike and Kathy Bricker.  


Limit: 24 people

 

This trip offers the best chance of the weekend to see migrating owls.  Attendees will also learn about winter constellations and view them if conditions permit.  At dusk we will set up mist nets and an owl calling station, targeting Northern Saw-whet Owls.   Captured owls will be measured, aged, sexed, banded, photographed, and released.  Ed will demonstrate techniques that biologists use to learn about these nocturnal hunters, share highlights of 25 years of research on 2,000 owls of eight species, and show a film about owl banding.   From the Headlands entrance, follow the signs to the Guest House.

 

Sunday April 5


5:30 am to 12:00 pm FIELD TRIP

($20 per person, adults only)

Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek Trip to Upper Peninsula, led by Steve Baker and Leonard Graf. 


Limit 10 people.


This early morning trip will allow attendees to witness the courtship ritual of these grouse, including competitive courtship dancing and calls.  Meet at 5:30 am at the Mackinaw City State Welcome Center/Rest Area on South Nicolet St. We will carpool in four vehicles and drive about an hour to a Sharptailed Grouse lek.  It is easily viewed from the vehicles, which will serve as blinds. The birds gather at dawn and the dancing should be going strong by sunrise. Dress warmly so windows can be open to let in the amazing sounds of the birds on the lek.  There are no bathroom facilities until leaving the lek at about 8 am so plan accordingly.


8:00 am to 4:00 pm FIELD TRIP

($20 per person)

Late Winter Birding in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, led by Greg Bodker


Limit 10 people. 


Meet at 8:00 am at the Mackinaw City Public School from which we will carpool to the Upper Peninsula.  We will search for Snowy Owls, Northern Shrikes, Rough-legged Hawks, and other winter migrants and residents through Mackinac County.  We will eat lunch at a restaurant before returning to Mackinaw City. 

 

10:00 am to Noon

GOLDEN EAGLE WATCH (free)

Join Bob Pettit and other Interpreters at the Hawk Watch near the Recreation Complex to search for your favorite or rare raptors.  Whatever flies over will be pointed out, with information about its migration and life habits, and identification in flight.