Where to Watch Spring Hawk Migration

Spring migration is much different than fall. In the spring, birds have a mission — to get to their breedingred_tailed_hawk_in_flight grounds on time for the best nesting spot and be there when there is the most food.   Breeding drives spring migration, which tends to be shorter than its fall counterpart.  Early migrants include hawks and all sorts of raptors who tend to arrive at their nesting site and start mating when winter is still hanging on. Hawk migration is well studied around the country, and a really fun thing to do is to visit one of the spots where there are hawk counters.  These folks will stand with a scope, binoculars and hand counters and count the number of each species of raptor that flies overhead, then compile the information to help with raptor research and populations.

Raptors tend to follow updrafts that allow them to expend little energy during migration.  Updrafts are difficult to find along large bodies of water and many raptors concentrate in areas waiting for favorable crossing conditions.  Eagles, falcons, hawks and owls congregate along north facing peninsulas in the spring.  These are generally good places to find hawks migrating.

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory sits on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula along Lake Superior.  It is a phenomenal spot to watch Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned hawks migrate in the spring.  The small Saw-whet owl also occurs in abundance during spring on the Upper Peninsula.  The owl banding station at Whitefish Point banded 779 Saw-whet Owls in the spring of 2013!  Long-eared Owls and the elusive Great-Grey Owl often make appearances for birders out for an evening walk at Whitefish Point.  If you are in this area right now, this is an ideal place to watch raptors in spring.

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