During the autumn months, the lower Detroit River (MI) 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 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.

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 on image for larger version) 


YouTube Video

Broad-winged Hawk Kettles, 17 Sep 2009 
- courtesy of Mark Wloch

Recent Announcements

  • Golden Eagles! - November 2016 Highlights of this month's count include some nice "low-flying" Golden Eagles. Mark Hainen and Andrew Sturgess have been on the ready w/ their cameras to capture a few of these late-season visitors as they passed unusually close to the count-sight.
    Posted Nov 13, 2016, 8:03 AM by Web master
  • 34th Year of Detroit River Hawk Watch to begin September 1st, 8AM EDT The Detroit River Hawk Watch will begin its 34th year on Thursday, September 1st. The monitoring program systematically counts the passage of all migrating eagles, falcons, vultures, hawks, and describes significant migration of many other species. Dustin Brewer and Natalie Cypher will lead a team of volunteers on the three-month data collection marathon, not ending until 4PM EDT on November 30th. Counters will be stationed each day at the Lake Erie Metropark boat launch tallying over 600 hours scanning the skies, usually resulting in between 100,000 to as many as 266,000 migrating bird-of-prey.
    Posted Aug 17, 2016, 1:26 PM by Web master
  • Join our Team as 2016 Primary Counter! FALL 2016 PAID RAPTOR COUNTER/S NEEDED (September 1 - November 30) to continue raptor migration monitoring for the Detroit River Hawk Watch (http://www.drhawkwatch.org/). Annual monitoring began in 1983 and documents one of the most significant fall raptor migrations in North America.The site has spectacular annual flights of broad-winged hawks, golden eagles, and all eastern raptors, including reliable passages of Swainson's hawk. There have only been six primary counters since 1998 and most return for multiple seasonsWe seek individuals who enjoy working with volunteer counters and communicating with visitors. Applicants must have some initial field biological experience and extremely high personal interest in raptor migration. Good writing skills are essential for daily and end ...
    Posted Jun 2, 2016, 8:09 AM by Web master
  • Another Successful Season Ends! - 01 Dec 2015 November 30, 2015 marked the end of the Fall 2015 Hawk Watch Season for Detroit River Hawk Watch. Thanks to all of the count staff, volunteers and visitors who helped make this a most memorable season. Special thanks to Jonathan Stein and Andrew Sturgess for their almost-daily presence and contributions to the count. Below is a summary for November with Totals for the Season. The official season review will be published by Jonathan in December.
    Posted Dec 9, 2015, 5:08 PM by Web master
  • Updates to the Website 30 Oct 2015 - Check out the new Hawk ID and Gallery tabs. We've updated the information and gallery thanks to contributions from Greg Smith, Andrew Sturgess, Darlene Friedman and Mark Hainen. If you'd like to contribute hawk photos, please send them to Jerry Jourdan at jourdaj@gmail.com!
    Posted Oct 30, 2015, 9:48 AM by Web master
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Broad-winged Hawks (Buteo platypterus) 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.