Written by Kathy Bricker
Few people realize that Michigan’s very shape counts among the treasures of Emmet and Cheboygan Counties. The mitten land mass, bordered by Lakes Michigan and Huron, serves as a funnel to concentrate birds heading north to summer nesting grounds. The choke-point occurs at the Straits of Mackinac and Mackinaw City. Many birds, among them hawks and owls, collectively known as raptors, gather here before crossing to the Upper Peninsula. Our region’s natural woodlands and fields serve well as a stopover area while birds await appropriate conditions to continue their northward migration.
To survey these birds of prey and educate people about their natural history, the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch recently formed as a not-for-profit effort. Says its president Ed Pike (Cross Village): “At the heart of successful conservation lays basic scientific knowledge about the population size and distribution of species. We aim to count hawks flying above Mackinaw City and to survey migrating owls. We also want to expand opportunities for the public to see these birds of prey first-hand and enjoy this natural history offering of our area.”
The group’s first priority is to expand the previous volunteer hawk counting. Says Pike: “We are advertising now for a professional hawk counter, expecting to raise the needed $6,800 before March 1 and the beginning of the 2014 hawk migration. We also welcome anyone to come witness the natural history phenomenon of the hawk migration or observe our work with owls.” Other committee members include Steve Baker (Indian River), John Kafer (Pellston), Aubrey Maccoux-LeDuc (St. Ignace), and Kathy Bricker and Gerry VanderHart (Cheboygan).
Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch is a project of U.S. Inc. Foundation, and donations are tax-deductible. Questions can be directed to secretary-treasurer Bricker at 231-627-4830 firstname.lastname@example.org.