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Counts and Staff


WPBO Count Staff and Dates

Count Dates

Below are the 2017 dates for the annual counts and banding projects taking place this year at WPBO. Visit the Research page to learn more details about how and why the counts are conducted.

Hawk Counts

Hawk Counts are conducted once a year during the Spring, and during the counts, are conducted from 8 am to 4 pm daily from the hawk deck.

March 15-May 31, 2017

Waterbird Counts

The waterbird counts run twice a year in the Spring and Fall. During the counting season, our staff begin daily at sunrise and continue for eight hours. Want to keep up to date on the counts? Visit our blog.

April 15-May 31, 2017
Aug 15- Nov 15, 2017

Owl Banding

Owl Banding is conducted three times a year from dusk to dawn. Follow our blog to keep up to date with the number and species of owls banded.

March 15-May 31, 2017
July 1-Aug 25, 2017
Sept 15-Oct 31, 2017

WPBO Staff:

Joanne Selbee – Gift Shop Manager

This is Joanne’s 24th year of working for Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.  She started right after she and her husband moved to the area, working prior in retail and offices. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a BS degree.  She enjoys meeting all the people who visit WPBO from all over the United States, and enjoys the friendships she’s made at WPBO. She considers herself a “backyard birder” who loves to feed birds at her home.

WPBO Count Staff – Spring 2017

When you plan your visit to the Point this year, be sure to take time to head to the Waterbird Shack (Spring and Fall) in the morning for some first-hand updates on waterbird migration. By mid-morning, raptors should be flying and the Hawk Deck is a great place to catch a Rough-legged Hawk, a dozen sharpies, or a hundred Broad-winged Hawks if you like!

Chris Neri – Owl Bander

A lifelong birder, Chris became particularly fascinated with owls at the ripe old age of eight. In the mid-90’s he was introduced to owl banding by Katy Duffy in Cape May, NJ, and he said he knew after the very first night of banding that his life had just been changed. He has since worked with birds of prey in NV, NJ, NM, ID, CA, OR, MN and his home state of PA. His life was again changed when he arrived for his first season of owl banding at WPBO in spring 1999. Chris has been fortunate enough to spend seasons at some of the premier raptor sites around the country, working on some great research projects, but as he reports, “nothing has captured me the way the owl migration at Whitefish Point has.”


Nova MackentleyNova Mackentley – Owl Bander

Nova graduated from Oberlin College, and has worked with passerines, owls, hawks, ground squirrels and ocelots at various field sites all over the world. She landed her first owl banding job in 2003 at Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN. After this, it was a short drive to the other side of Lake Superior to Whitefish Point in the spring of 2005. She quickly fell in love with the owl migration at Whitefish Point, and has returned every year since – this marks her 21st season working with owls at Whitefish Point. Nova and Chris have now made the Point their permanent residence, and its rugged wildness inspires much of their photography nightflightimages.com.



Skye Haas – Field Ornithologist

Skye, an avid birder and naturalist, is excited to return to Whitefish Point this spring since this is the place where he landed his first waterbird counting position over a decade ago. Since then, Skye has been working as a contract biologist for organizations like The Nature Conservancy, Seney NWR, the Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas, and the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. The last two autumns, Skye has been the waterbird counter at the Avalon Seawatch at the Cape May Bird Observatory (New Jersey), where in 2014 he was the lead counter of the team that set the all-time single-season record of over one million, twenty-six thousand migrating waterbirds! Skye has a degree from Northern Michigan University, and has led tours for Michigan Audubon, the Sax Zim Bog Birding Festival, and also his own guide service, Borealis Birding. A returning member of the Michigan Bird Records Committee, Skye is a long-standing Board member of the Laughing Whitefish Audubon Society in Marquette, and is a founding member of the Keweenaw Raptor Survey (now Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch).



Gary Palmer – Hawk Counter

Gary Palmer grew up in Saginaw and developed a love for the outdoors from a young age. He received a degree in biology from Saginaw Valley State University in 2007 and shortly afterward he moved to the Upper Peninsula to live in Marquette. He attended graduate school at Northern Michigan University, where he recently finished his master’s degree in post-secondary biology education. His interest in studying animal behavior steered him toward taking Dr. Alec Lindsay’s field ornithology course at NMU in 2010, and his life hasn’t been the same since. After discovering the incredible rush of spring migration he was hooked, and has dedicated much of his time to birding anywhere he can, making trips to Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California, Minnesota and New Jersey in recent years.


Louie Dombroski – Waterbird Counter

Louie Dombroski, originally from Bay City, landed his first field ornithology job in 1988, when he became Waterbird Counter at Whitefish Point. Although field work has taken him to Alaska, Arizona, Mexico, and many points in between, Louie keeps returning to northern Michigan on a regular basis. For the last three years Louie has been an integral part of other Lake Superior waterbird counts. Louie also worked on both Michigan Breeding Bird Atlases, authored many Summer and Fall Seasonal Bird Survey reports for the Michigan Audubon journal Michigan Birds & Natural History, and is currently chair of the Michigan Bird Records Committee. Louie has been the waterbird counter at Whitefish Point for several seasons over the years, including the inaugural fall waterbird count.

Additional thanks, photo use

Thank you to Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley for providing photos for this website. To see more of their photos, visit www.nightflightimages.com. Additional thanks to Skye Haas, whose photos can be seen on his flickr account at www.flickr.com/photos/theowlranch.