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News
2021 Season Summary
Red-Tailed Hawk, copyright 2021 Andrew Sturgess
The 2021 count was the 39th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and turkey vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 24th year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, special precautions were made to ensure the safety of the counter and volunteer staff. There were 532.33 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 82 days between 01 September and 30 November. This season, 94,616 total turkey vultures and raptors of 14 species were counted, which includes 1 unknown raptor. This total was 24% below the LTA (124,193) and 23% below the 10-year average between 2012 - 2021 (123,018). We compare this season’s totals to the respective LTA for each species since 1998. Turkey vulture (17%), sharp-shinned hawk (9%), American kestrel (20%), merlin (38%), and peregrine falcon (47%) were the only species counted above the LTA. Osprey (-76%), bald eagle (-49%), Cooper’s hawk (-87%), northern goshawk (-100%), red-shouldered hawk (-21%), broad-winged hawk (- 63%), Swainson’s hawk (-100%), red-tailed hawk (-18%), rough-legged hawk (-88%), and golden eagle (-31%) were significantly lower than their respective LTA (where values >15% are considered “significant” for the count). Zero northern goshawks and zero Swainson’s hawks were counted this year.
The complete report can be read here.


Welcome our 2021 DRHW Apprentices!
The Detroit River Hawk Watch is excited to introduce two hawk counter apprentices who will be joining us for this 2021 migration season!

Photo of Shourjya Majumder, 2021 D R H W apprentice




Shourjya Majumder completed his BS in Conservation Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. After gaining experience in waterfowl census, grassland bird population monitoring, and songbird banding, he is excited to delve into working with raptors at Detroit River Hawk Watch. During his spare time, he likes to go on nature walks, listen to music, and read a captivating book.


Photo of Erika Van Kirk, 2021 D R H W apprentice






Erika Van Kirk grew up in a family that cultivated a deep love and respect for nature within her. Frequenting the forests and lakes of Michigan as a child she found herself noticing the endless detail of the mysterious world around her. This same curiosity and fascination with the natural world today is a driver for lifelong learning and serves as inspiration for her ceramic art practice and other creative pursuits. She works as an Interpreter at Lake Erie Metropark and Sterling State Park, is a guided hunt leader with the company Michigan Mushroom Hunters, and manages her ceramic studio, EVK Ceramics, in Detroit.





Our apprentices will have the opportunity to learn hawk identification and migration data collection directly from our experienced professional hawk counter and team of dedicated hawk spotting volunteers as they foster their experience and passion for this field. Please give our new team members a warm welcome when you see them at the count site this season!



Planet Detroit: "Here’s what you can learn from counting hawks for 90 days straight on the Detroit River"
Sharp-shinned hawk. Copyright 2005 SMRR

Jerry Jourdan sits down with Aaron Mondry of Planet Detroit to talk about the Detroit River Hawk Watch counter, volunteers, the nitty-gritty science of the count, and the most interesting facts about our 2020 season.

Read the interview at Planet Detroit here.







2020 Season Summary
The Detroit River Hawk Watch’s (DRHW) 2020 count was the 38th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and turkey vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River and the 23rd year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark (LEMP). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, special precautions were made to ensure the safety of the counter and volunteer staff. There were 568 hours of data collection over 83 days between 01 September and 30 November. This season, 101,200 total turkey vultures and raptors of 16 species were counted, which included 4 unknown raptors. This total was 19% below the Long-Term Average (LTA) (125,479) and 28% below the Ten-Year Average (TYA) between 2011-2019 (139,654). We compared this season’s totals to the respective LTA for each species since 1998. Turkey vultures (42%), red-shouldered hawk (28%), merlin (41%) and peregrine falcon (118%) were the only species counted above the LTA. Osprey (-73%), bald eagle (-56%), northern harrier (-7%), sharp-shinned hawk (-16%), Cooper’s hawk (-75%), northern goshawk (-88%), broad-winged hawk (-72%), Swainson’s hawk (-100%), red-tailed hawk (-6%), rough-legged hawk (-22%), golden eagle (-42%), and American kestrel (-27%) were significantly lower than their respective LTA (where values >15% are considered “significant” for the count). In addition, two northern goshawk and zero Swainson’s hawk were counted this year.
The complete report can be read here.


Planet Detroit Article Highlights DRHW Volunteers

A recent article on the Planet Detroit website documented the efforts of citizen scientists in the Detroit Metro area. It quoted Detroit River IWR wildlife biologist Jessica Fletcher in a discussion of the Detroit River Hawk Watch. She highlighted the efforts of the volunteers to the DRHW, noting that in 2019, program volunteers contributed over 500 hours while documenting over 100,000 birds. Fletcher noted, "We could not do this project without our volunteers. For lay people to be so dedicated to scientific integrity is astounding.”
Read the article here.


2019 Season Summary
The 2019 count was the 37th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and turkey vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 22nd year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. There were 562 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 89 days between 01 September and 30 November. 128,131 total turkey vultures and raptors of 15 species were counted, which includes one unknown raptor. This total was 1% above the long-term average (LTA) for the count site, but 15% below the 10-year average (TYA) between 2010 and 2019. We compare this season’s totals to the respective LTA for each species since 1998. Turkey vultures (5%), red-shouldered hawk (20%), broad-winged hawk (2%), red-tailed hawk (10%), and peregrine falcon (20%) were the only species counted above the LTA. Osprey (-70%), bald eagle (- 41%), northern harrier (-24%), sharp-shinned hawk (-31%), Cooper’s hawk (-72%), northern goshawk (-89%), Swainson’s hawk (-100%), rough-legged hawk (-63%), golden eagle (-36%), American kestrel (-21%), and merlin (-27%) were significantly lower than their respective LTA (where values >15% are considered “significant” for the count). Two northern goshawk and zero Swainson’s hawk were counted this year.
The complete report can be read here.


2019 Binoculars Raffle Winner
Congratulations to Sheylan Kaslo, who was the lucky winner of a pair of Nikon Monarch HG 10x40 Binocular that were raffled off during HawkFest 2019. The raffle netted $3070 for the Detroit River Hawk Watch.

Thanks also to DTE Energy Volunteer Corp for their McCarthy Award ($500) and proceeds from the IWRA Nature Store during HawkFest 2019 ($430) that resulted in the $4000 proceeds that will go directly to the Detroit River Hawk Watch. Thanks to Joann Van Aken and IWRA for setting up the raffle that helped raise donations. Congratulations again, Sheylan!



2018 Season Summary
The 2018 count was the 36th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and turkey vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 21st year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. There were 551 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 81 days between 1 September and 30 November. 120,712 total turkey vultures and raptors of 15 species were counted, which includes 6 unknown buteos, 3 unknown falcons, and 5 unknown raptors. This total was only 5% below the long-term average (LTA) for the count site. We compare this season’s totals to the respective LTA for each species since 1998. Turkey vultures (25%), American kestrels (24%), merlin (19%) and peregrine falcons (69%) were the only species counted above the LTA. Osprey (-68%), bald eagle (-55%), Cooper’s hawk (-74%), northern goshawk (-89%), broadwinged hawk (-25%), Swainson’s hawk (-28%), red-tailed hawk (-32%), rough-legged hawk (-39%) and golden eagle (-50%) were significantly lower than their respective LTA (where values >15% are considered “significant” for the count). Northern harrier (-9%), sharp-shinned hawk (-11%), red-shouldered hawk (-10%) numbers were insignificantly lower than the LTA. Two northern goshawk and three Swainson’s hawk were counted this year.  

The complete report can be read here.


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