The Detroit River runs from Lake St. Clair in the north to Lake Erie in the south, forming part of the border between Michigan in the United States and Ontario in Canada. During the autumn months, the lower Detroit River becomes a corridor for the passage of migratory birds, and has gained international recognition for the annual volume of birds of prey. Hundreds of thousands of migrating hawks, eagles, falcons, and vultures are concentrated at this location where it is possible to systematically count them each year.
A standardized monitoring program - the Detroit River Hawk Watch - is conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR), and its friends group, the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA), at the Lake Erie Metropark in Gibraltar, MI. Join us at the Boat Launch and witness spectacular flights of Broad-winged Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and both Bald and Golden Eagles! See the Calendar of Hawk Movement below for numbers and types of raptors expected each season.
DRHW Releases Summary of 2023 Hawk Watch
Detroit River Hawk Watch has released its summary of the 2023 observations. The 2023 count was the 41st consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and Turkey Vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 26th year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. There were 570.5 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 87 days between 01 September and 30 November. This season, 215,444 total raptors and vultures of 16 species were counted. This total was 68% above the LTA (128,524) and 57% above the 10-year average between 2014-2023 (136,935).
Posted January 21, 2024 11:30 AM by Webmaster
Meet Our 2023 DRHW Apprentices
Two new apprentices are joining us for the 2023 migration season: Sabrina Salome (left) and Jackie Quinones (right). Read more about our apprentices here.
Posted July 29, 2023 at 11:00 AM by Webmaster
DRHW Releases Summary of 2022 Hawk Watch
The 2022 count was the 40th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and turkey vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 25th year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. There were 573 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 87 days between 01 September and 30 November. This season, 145,577 total turkey vultures and raptors of 15 species were counted. This total was 16% above the LTA (125,048) and 13% above the 10-year average between 2013 - 2022 (128,265).
Posted January 22, 2023 12:00 PM by Webmaster
Meet Our 2022 DRHW Apprentices
Sarah deGuise (left) joins DRHW returning apprentice Erika Van Kirk for the 2022 migration season. Read more about our apprentices here.
Posted Sept. 8, 2022 at 4:00 PM by Webmaster
DRHW Releases Summary of 2021 Hawk Watch
Detroit River Hawk Watch has released its summary of its 2021 observations. 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. The narrative includes highlights of each month and of species observed.
Posted March 6, 2022 10:30 AM by Webmaster
Planet Detroit Talks with DRHW's Jerry Jourdan
Planet Detroit Aaron Modry sat down for a conversation with DRHW's Jerry Jourdan about the Hawk Watch's effforts over the past 30+ years. They talk about the dedicated volunteer, the science of the count, and the most interesting facts about the 2020 season. Read more here!
Posted Feb. 20, 2021 at 10:00 AM by Webmaster
Calendar of Hawk Movement
Seasonal distributions of raptors through the Detroit River Hawk Watch site between 01 September and 30 November.
Results based on 3-day running average of count data collected between 1991 - 2008.
Click image to enlarge.
Broad-winged Hawk Kettles, 17 Sep 2009
- courtesy of Mark Wloch
concentrate at the lower Detroit River each September after nesting in deciduous or mixed-deciduous forests of Ontario. Tens of thousands of these raptors will pass overhead on their way to wintering areas in South America.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Sturgess. Click image to enlarge.