Michigan Audubon Office: (517) 580-7364|birds@michiganaudubon.org

Migration Counts

The WPBO Migration Counts Blog provides updates on the spring and fall migrations of waterbirds, raptors, shorebirds, and more.

Waterbird Count Update through 13 September

This morning, I huddled against the lee side of the Waterbird Shack: chilly, wet, panning a scope mounted on a shaking tripod in a mostly futile attempt to distill migrating waterbirds from mammoth swells. Lake Superior has certainly outdone herself in welcoming me back to her shores.  Though I was gone three and a half [...]

2019-09-13T23:12:50-04:00September 13th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Waterbird Count Update through 13 September

An August Overview

Since the last blog post, the migration past the point slowed down to a crawl. There was even a day that we didn't count a single Red-necked Grebe! But, migration heated back up on the Aug. 30 when we recorded 2,269 Red-necked Grebe. We've also seen some good Common Tern flights. The best flight consisted [...]

2019-09-03T12:33:58-04:00August 31st, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on An August Overview

A Steady Start

The fall waterbird count kicked off on the morning of Aug. 15. We've been lucky to start the season off with relatively good numbers throughout the first week. As usual for August, our most common migrant has been the Red-necked Grebe. We've counted a total of 3,292 with a peak of 809 on Aug. 20. [...]

2019-08-23T13:18:49-04:00August 21st, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on A Steady Start

The Whimbrel Day

When I took on Whitefish’s spring waterbird count, there were several avian phenomena I looked forward to: Red-throated Loons mixing with the Commons in a ratio not found elsewhere in Michigan. Big scoter flights. The possibility of southwest winds and the vagrant birds they might bring. One of the things I looked forward to the [...]

2019-06-05T19:57:16-04:00June 5th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on The Whimbrel Day

Scoters, Bonaparte’s, and Long-tails: Waterbird Count Week 5

It hardly seems possible, but Whitefish’s Waterbird Count is nearing the end of its penultimate week. And, what a week it has been! Some of the migration moments I’ve been anticipating since season’s start have happened, and they’ve been well worth the wait. These include:  The Scoter flight: this time of year, hundreds of White-winged [...]

2019-05-23T23:42:22-04:00May 23rd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Scoters, Bonaparte’s, and Long-tails: Waterbird Count Week 5

Surprises!

As we begin winding down for the season, there are a few tales from the hawk shack that have so far gone untold. The season peak for most of the raptor species that make their way through was around the end of April and the beginning of May. As it usually does, Michigan Audubon's annual [...]

2019-05-23T18:06:46-04:00May 23rd, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Surprises!

Week 4 Waterbird Count Recap: Good Numbers, Good Birds.

Some days, the most peaceful moments of the waterbird count are about ten minutes before it actually starts. I like to arrive at the shack a little early: collect the first weather data, scan the lake and beach for resting birds--ease into things, you know. When the sun edges up over High Hills, time starts [...]

2019-05-15T22:38:56-04:00May 15th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Week 4 Waterbird Count Recap: Good Numbers, Good Birds.

A New Bird

Once the raptor migration really gets going, it isn't often that we will get a new species for the season. By this time, all the species that are expected have already shown up at least once. However, I've learned to always expect surprises! Last week when scanning a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds, [...]

2019-05-09T14:56:34-04:00May 9th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on A New Bird

Welcome to May: 3rd Week of the Waterbird Count

  At this latitude, May is a high-octane month. Night starts later, day begins sooner, and I think we all flounder a bit as we try to keep up with all we want to see. When dusk falls, Long-eared Owls rise from the pines near the Point and often, I fall victim to the urge [...]

2019-05-09T21:30:19-04:00May 9th, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Welcome to May: 3rd Week of the Waterbird Count

Ice Out, Birds In: Waterbird Count Week 2

Eight hours most days, I stand on Whitefish Point’s cobbled beach. There, from whichever side of the waterbird shack is the lee side du jour, I make sweeping scans with binoculars and spotting scope. To the west is a stand of scrappy jack pines where, this week, a shrike has (albeit with different, more murderous [...]

2019-05-01T16:05:55-04:00May 1st, 2019|Migration Counts|Comments Off on Ice Out, Birds In: Waterbird Count Week 2