This past weekend was the annual 2015 HawkFest at Lake Erie MetroPark in Brownstown Township, Michigan. This annual event celebrates the migration of raptors from Canada as they cross the ‘land-bridge’ from Ontario to Michigan and continue their way to their winter resting grounds. If the migration is timed correctly, and the weather is good, the migration of hundreds of thousands of hawks can be observed. The weather this past Saturday was not the greatest for bird watching, raptor migrations, or outdoor nature events, but after the front cleared out the humidity and the rain, the afternoon turned out to be an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. The hawk flights picked up in the afternoon and raptors could be observed readily in the afternoon hours. Several Osprey, Bald Eagles, and smaller accipiters could be observed from the main viewing area. A small kettle of Broad-Winged Hawks formed over the nature center for a few brief minutes as nature enthusiasts looked on with binoculars.
A few club members, including myself spent time out in the trapping/banding blind catching Coopers Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Each year, licensed bird banders trap, band, and collect measurements on the migrating raptors that traverse across the river to keep moving on from their northern territory. The biggest migrating hawk by the numbers is the Broad-Winged Hawk. Members of the Michigan Hawking Club an other local nature organizations come to the HawkFest to share their love of raptors with others and enjoy all of nature’s gifts. In addition, many members of the Michigan Hawking Club donate their time and expertise in Falconry to come to the event for the day to provide Hawk Talks to HawkFest attendees.
The picture below, taken by Krystal Hoag shows Cedar and myself presenting falconry lore to a few of the onlookers attending the event this past Saturday. There were many folks who took in the celebration of raptor migration and on Sunday the Club Booth was well attended. This is one of the tenants of the Michigan Hawking Club, to provide educational programs and ‘HawkTalks’ to interested attendees.
Cedar catching the evening sun just right.
Summer evenings in the backyard are enjoyable with the birds. Cedar caught the evening sun just right tonight on a clear night in August.
Mystic hanging out and getting some manning outdoors.
Mystic and I getting in some evening manning time with Family. Photo credits tonight go to my boys.
Mystic the Barn Owl is Home!
After a long 7-hour journey from Buffalo, New York, Mystic has arrived and is settling into our Falconry Family! We have set up a small little play area in the basement in order for her to interact with the daily noises and activity that tends to go on in the household.
About: Barn Owls are one of the most widespread owl species in the world. The Barn Owl can adapt to a variety of open habitats all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. Barn Owls hunt at night by flying across open grasslands and fields in search of small rodents. A Barn Owl family can consume over 100,000 mice per year! The male Barn Owl collects prey with his agile flying and stealth techniques, while the slightly larger female Barn Owl stays behind on the nest, usually within a tree cavity, old building, or next box to feed and protect her chicks.
Born: June 6, 2015
Clutch: 1 of 4
Sex: Currently Unknown (best guess at this stage is female)
Height: 14-20 in
Wingspan: 40-45 in
Habitat: Grasslands, deserts, marshes, scrubland, and farms
Range: All Continents except Antarctica
Life Expectancy: Up to 11 yrs in the wild, up to 25 yrs in captivity
Introducing Mystic the Barn Owl
This coming week, we will be adding to our falconry family with an 8-week old Barn Owl (Tyto alba). We are very excited to have ‘Mystic’ join our family and grow in the great sport of falconry.
Aurora, Snowy Owl
I knew from the moment I first saw her that she was going to break my heart. It wasn’t going to be deliberate or purposeful but I knew it was going to happen. And so the time has come for me to say goodbye to an enchanting princess from the snowy wilderness of the arctic tundra. She spent six whole months with me and my family despite all of the kind efforts and training of falconry, she would not adapt to the life of falconry, nor could I retrain her from the wilderness that she had known all of her life. It was the most difficult falconry decision I’ve had to make, but it was for the best. She has moved on to the next chapter in her life and I hope she will do good things in her next adventures. Good Luck, enchanting white princess.