Fall migration research continues at Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch

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MACKINAW CITY — The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch has launched its fall search program, with counting and marking projects well advanced in the Straits region.

According to the organization’s bulletin, the fall falcon count is in progress at Point LaBarbe, north of the Mackinac Bridge, from August 20 to November 21. 10. Hawk Counter Calvin Brennan is back for his fourth year and counting.

The public is encouraged to stop and look for falcons while learning about raptor migrations. On weekends from mid-September to mid-October, a raptor naturalist will be on hand to help interested birders identify migrating falcons.

The fall waterfowl count is also underway. Starting August 20, counting is done every other day from McGulpin Point in Mackinaw City and Graham Point in St. Ignace. Oliver Kew, the band’s waterfowl counter, is back for the fall count.

Each year, volunteers count raptors migrating over the Strait of Mackinac, including bald eagles, red-headed vultures and monarch butterflies.

According to the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, the strait area is a major concentration point for migrating waterfowl and thousands of ducks and geese pass through the strait each spring and fall. Anyone interested in waterfowl can stop at the count point, the best time to do so is between sunrise and 10am.

Fall banding and tagging efforts are also well advanced this season. The fall owl survey and banding effort began September 15 at Point LaBarbe and will continue nightly until November 10. Jodi Pinder, of Maine, is the lead bander for the owls and Hannah Glass, of Virginia, is the assistant bander.

To schedule a tour for a group of 10 people or less, contact info@mackinacaptorwatch.org. The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch group asks that visitors banding the owls be members of the organization, to help defray costs.

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After:How you can help the endangered monarch butterfly

This monarch butterfly was tagged and recorded, then released to continue its migration.

Besides bird banding, the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch also marks monarch butterflies as they migrate 2,500 miles south to Mexico.

The monarch butterfly was recently classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Monarch populations are in significant decline, and local tagging efforts are helping researchers better understand their complex migratory behavior, according to the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch. Monarch tagging takes place at Point LaBarbe.

For more information on the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch group and their research projects, visit www.mackinacaptorwatch.org.

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