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

  • 2017 Fall Season Summary The 2017 count was the 35th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and Turkey Vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 20th year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. There were 636.75 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 89 days between 1 September and 30 November1. 72,263 total Turkey Vultures and raptors of 15 species were counted, which includes 1 unknown accipiter, 7 unknown buteos, and 3 unknown raptors. We compare this season’s totals to the respective long-term average (LTA) for each species since 1998. Turkey Vultures (8%), Bald Eagles (34%), Merlin (26%) and Peregrine Falcons (58%) were the only species counted above the LTA. Osprey ...
    Posted Dec 21, 2017, 10:06 AM by Web master
  • 10 Oct 2017 - First Golden Eagle and Swainson's Hawk Kevin and Andrew reported seeing the first Golden Eagle and Swainson's Hawk of the season. Sadly, neither passed close enough for a photo.Congratulations, guys!
    Posted Oct 10, 2017, 2:55 PM by Web master
  • A New Season Begins! - 01 Sep 2017 Mark Hainen captured this juvenile Cooper's Hawk as it passed over the site as one of the first raptors to be documented during the start of the 35th Detroit River Hawk Watch, which started today, 01 Sep 2017. Kevin Georg will act as the season's Primary Counter. He comes to DRWH with over 3 decades worth of hawk-watching experience. Welcome, Kevin!
    Posted Sep 2, 2017, 1:00 PM by Web master
  • 2017 Fall Raptor Counter Needed (September 1 to November 30, 2017) to continue raptor migration monitoring for the Detroit River Hawk Watch (http://www.drhawkwatch.org/). Annual raptor monitoring began in 1983 and documents one of the most significant fall raptor migrations in North America.Our hawk watch site has spectacular annual flights of broad-winged hawks, golden eagles, and all eastern raptors, including reliable passages of Swainson's hawk. During the month of September we can expect upwards of 10,000 to 100,000 Broad-winged Hawks, alone! There have only been seven 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 ...
    Posted Jul 17, 2017, 6:23 PM by Web master
  • 2016 Season Summary The 2016 count was the 34th consecutive season of monitoring diurnal raptor and turkey vulture migration at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the 19th year of consistent coverage at Lake Erie Metropark. There were 635.5 hours of data collection with counts conducted on 89 days between 1 September and 30 November. A total of 65,398 raptors and turkey vultures of fifteen species were counted. We compared this season’s counts of individuals for each species to the respective long-term average (LTA) for each species since 1998. Only merlins (Falco columbarius) were counted within a 15 percent deviation from the LTA, which we considered to be the ‘approximately average’ zone. The total number of individuals counted ...
    Posted Jun 15, 2017, 4:22 PM by Web master
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 6. View more »

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.