Current Activity

Counter Update


For the month of April the count was 108 % of the monthly average with 2320 birds. Duluth was 82 %, Whitefish 92 % and Duluth a whopping 206 % of the monthly average. Brockway lost 7 days to weather in the last 2 weeks of April.

April 14 stands out as the high daily count for the month with harriers and Rough-legged Hawks setting single day records. The season’s first Broad-winged arrived and both kestrels and Merlins were impressive.


May 2nd, an ice covered counter shack!

May 7th, a foggy morning on the mountain

Count Update

Update from the count, thank you Bob!
Rough-legged Hawk Photo: Vic Berardi
The warmer weather kicked in on the 9th with a high of 64 F, the 14th had a high of 75 F and the warmth started fading on the 15th which was 58 F at 9 A.M. and dropped to 41 by 2 P.M. A lot of snow melted in that heat wave. The 14th was a great hawk watching day with the south wind pushing the birds to the shoreline and they then came fairly low between Brockway and the next ridge south. The first Osprey and Broad-winged arrived and Sharp-shinned Hawks had their first big day. A day of great variety, but it was a Rough-legged Hawk day with 306. For some perspective, the season average is 212, the season max was 385 in 2013 and the previous single day high was 141.

The near-term weather will be a lot cooler and wetter and with mostly north winds. Sunday and Monday were rained and snowed out. The fun will come back. Joe Youngman was kind to give me days off in March and the first half of April.


Count Update

Update from the count, thank you Bob! Continual and sporadic internet outages delay updates occasionally 😆
Northern Goshawk Photo: Tim Baerwald
The snowmobile season is over, the road is closed. It is the quiet season on the mountain. The snow squalls over the lake have been beautiful and cloud watching enjoyable. Not a lot of raptors yet and a fair amount of snow and lately wind have caused 6 no count days and 2 days with less than 2 hours watching. The biggest count day was April 2 with 35 birds including 11 Red-tailed Hawks and the first Northern Harrier of the season. Next week is predicted to be warmer and the migration at Brockway will pick up. Snow Buntings have become more numerous and both waxwings show up, and the raven pair are nesting.
Because of internet problems I could not get this to Karen so she could post it. Well today, April 7, is the high count day with 82 birds and nice variety. It was a mild north wind day and the raptors came. A cumulus cloud backdrop helped with picking the high birds up. 3 Golden Eagles, 1 Northern Goshawk, 48 Bald Eagles, 1 Red-shouldered, 28 Red-tailed and 1 Rough-legged. Migration is in the air.

It’s that time again….

The 2023 spring count began March 15. Lead counter Bob Baez got up the mountain for the first day and a south wind to start things off right! The next few days will probably keep him down in the harbor with threats of a winter storm with heavy winds and leaving us with about a foot of snow.

June/End of the Season

June added over 1400 raptors to the season total, primarily made up by 1200 Broad-winged Hawks (mostly juveniles) including a season high count for eastbound birds with 415 on the 5th!

Otherwise June on the mountain was rather uneventful and hot with temps near 90 unleashing hordes of Blackflies and No-See-Um’s.

The season ended with 15 species of raptors totaling 7,210 eastbound individuals. This is the second lowest total on record, but better than last spring! More details can be found in the report which will be available by the end of the month.

Off the mountain, excitement was provided by a Black Vulture flying west over Horseshoe Harbor on the 6th, the first local record since 2015! Unfortunately it never flew past the hawk count and one wonders how and when it entered and exited the Keweenaw.

This Gray Catbird posed nicely to end the season.

End of May

Despite good flying weather the raptor migration dropped off after May 19th, with daily totals only breaking the hundred mark one time through the end of the month. Leading to long slow days on the mountain punctuated by the early arrival of blackflies which made the slowing migration all the more noticeable. As typical for late May juvenile Broad-winged Hawks have taken over the majority of the flight from the adults, nearly all are molting flight feathers resulting in gaps in their wings. Notable was a late adult Northern Goshawk on the 30th (photo below).

Off the mountain passerines have kept things interesting. The Loggerhead Shrike was present through the 21st, Green Heron on the 25th, Red-headed Woodpecker the 24th & 25th, Olive-sided & Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Warbling Vireo on the 21st, Northern Mockingbird on the 28th, Gray-cheeked Thrush, 40+ Savannah Sparrows, 19 species of warblers on the 21st, Western Meadowlark on the 22nd, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds on the 20th & 27.

May Raptor Update

Despite the calendar turning to May, migration for this period was nearly non-existent due to continued non-south winds (much like last spring…)

Things finally changed when the winds went south the night of the 12th, only to go WNW the next morning. A pattern that would be repeated through the 17th. The combo of south winds each night brought a new wave of passerines, while the WNW (and NW and N) winds in the day limited the amount of raptors passing by Brockway. An added insult was the wind maps showing south winds at the bottom of the Keweenaw!

Since the 12th the flight has been steady with a few hundred raptors each day, and the biggest flight for the period was on the 13th with 454 raptors recorded including 307 Broad-winged Hawks. It seems that the southerly winds to the south brings raptors up into the Keweenaw, but the WNW-N winds along the north shore is pushing those birds inland and away from Brockway. What birds do pass by tend to be high or inland, a pattern I don’t see changing until we get south winds in the daytime. Noteworthy were 545 west bound Broad-winged’s on the 15th, that’s a higher count than any day of east bound birds this season.

Raptor highlights have been sparse this spring, but an adult Krider’s Red-tailed Hawk that has made several appearances over the last few days is definitely a stand out. This is likely the first record of this pale western subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk for the count.

Here’s the local Raven carrying food to the nest, it wont be long until the young fledge and are flapping around the cliff edge and valley.



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