Thousands of raptors migrating south
By Steve Pollick
The Toledo Blade
Published September 12, 2006
The next 10 days or so may be all about hawks and other
raptors, or birds of prey, if weather conditions are just
It is the peak season for the migratory passage of thousands
of hawks, principally broad-winged hawks, around the northwest
corner of Lake Erie.
On Sunday the passage of more than 4,600 raptors of 10
species were confirmed at hawk-watch stations in Lake
Erie Metropark and Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, both
along the lake about 15 miles northeast of Monroe, Mich.,
near the Detroit River mouth.
On Sept. 17, 1998, a record of nearly 517,000 hawks soared
past two sites, and two years ago on Sept. 18, nearly
131,000 hawks and other raptors glided overhead. Such
noteworthy passages have put the region on the ornithological
Between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, trained observers organized
under Southeastern Michigan Raptor Research maintain the
lakeshore sites, scanning the skies along the mouth of
a four-mile-wide migratory funnel. No fewer than 15 species
of raptors may be represented during the fall migrations.
As the raptors head south from summer breeding grounds
in eastern Canada, their flights confront Lake Erie on
the south and Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair on the west.
Thermals, or swirling updrafts of sun-warmed air, that
are favored by raptors do not form over water, so southwest-bound
birds are funneled along the north shore of Lake Erie
toward the Detroit River mouth, where they cross into
southeast Michigan and disperse southward toward their
Just across the river on the Canadian side lies another
watch site, the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory near
The ideal conditions form on the back side of a cold
front, with clear skies and gentle to moderate northerly
wind to help push the migration in mid to late September
for broadwings and later into fall for other species.
SMRR has been keeping watch-records since 1983, but researchers
have considered their records complete, with standardized
watch-sites, only since 1992. To review daily migration
updates, visit the Web site, www.smrr.net.
The 17th annual HawkFest, a celebration of raptors and
the autumn passages, is set for next weekend, Sept. 16-17,
at Lake Erie Metroparks, on the grounds of its Marshland
Museum. Daily hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Featured events include environmental presentations on
hawks, a live raptor rehabilitation program, and programs
on the flight of hawks and the recovery of bald eagles.
Games and crafts for children also are planned, along
with an optics display tent, exhibits, raffle, and prizes.
A Hawk Feast breakfast is set for Sunday at 9 a.m. Call
the metropark for other details, 734-379-5020 extension
5736, or visit the SMRR Web site under "events."
At Holiday Beach Migration Observatory, another volunteer
group also watches hawks and keeps records, which can
be viewed at the observatory's Web site, www.hbmo.org.
The HBMO's annual Festival of Hawks which covers three
weekends, got under way over the weekend and continues
next Saturday and Sunday and Sept. 23. Hours are 8 a.m.
to 3 p.m.
Next weekend, Sept. 16-17, the festival features broadwings
and dragonflies, and on Sept. 23 the features are peregrine
falcons and songbirds.
Daily events include nature displays and workshops, equipment
displays, songbird banding demonstrations from 9 a.m.
to 1 p.m., hawk-banding at 11 a.m., monarch-tagging Saturdays
at 1 p.m. and hawk identification at 1:30 p.m., additional
monarch tagging today and next Sunday at 2 p.m., and a
dragonfly migration walk Sept. 17 at 10 a.m.
The observatory lies within the Holiday Beach Conservation
Area, 40 minutes from the Ambassador Bridge at Detroit/Windsor.
For details call 519-736-3772, or visit the HBMO Web site.
Reeling and Healing Inc., a nonprofit, Michigan-based
organization that conducts fly-fishing retreats for women
who have or are recovering from breast cancer, has scheduled
a program for Sept. 24 through 26 at Rockwell Springs
Trout Club at Castalia.
The retreat, staffed by professional facilitators and
fishing instructors, aims to introduce women challenged
by breast cancer with the healing powers of fly fishing.
For details on enrolling in the retreat, contact the regional
coordinator, Judy Walle, at 419-944-4809 or via e-mail
A lottery drawing for young hunters and trappers ages
17 and under for opportunities on Steinen Wildlife Area,
located on U.S. 6 in northwest Erie County, is set for
Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.
The drawing is set for Osborn Park, Frost center, 3910
Perkins Ave., Huron. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. A valid hunting
license must be in hand for applicants.
For other details contact Erie MetroParks at 419-625-7783.
The 10th annual Clean Your Streams Day is Saturday on
the Maumee River and Bay, Swan Creek, and Ottawa River.
Groups should call Matt Horvat at the Toledo Metropolitan
Area Council of Governments, 241-9155.
The cleanup is coordinated by TMACOG and the Maumee River
Remedial Action Program. Work hours will be 8:30 a.m.
to noon, followed by a picnic. Individuals also may sign
in at the following sites:
Swan Creek, Highland Park shelter house; Upper Ottawa
River watershed, Olander Park shelter house, Sylvania
Township; Middle Ottawa River watershed, Ottawa Park shelterhouse;
Lower Ottawa River watershed, Washington Township fire
station; Maumee River and Bay, Oregon Municipal Building.
Russell Lamp, collector of nests of stinging insects
for the pharmaceutical industry, is seeking to collect
yellowjacket nests into October. He will remove active
ground nests for free. Call him at 419-836-3710.