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Mackinaw Straits Raptor Watch plans spring migration festival

Flickr | Marc Jones

The Mackinaw Straits Raptor Watch is planning its annual festival. The celebration is in honor of spring migration, and will take place April 5-7 in Mackinaw City.


The days are longer, the air is warmer, the sun is brighter, and  Michigan’s birds are headed back for the season. A bird enthusiast group in Northern Michigan, the Mackinaw Straits Raptor Watch, is hosting a festival next month to celebrate the spring migration.

Susan Hayes Affholter is a member of MSRW. She said the bird enthusiast group started with casual birdwatching, but has grown into a professional bird counting non-profit.

“Although some of the people were counting the birds informally, we’ve been able to actually hire professional birders, who have come up and trained us how to count these birds,” she said, “And that’s when we started to collect this data on what’s going on up there.”

Affholter said the variety of birds in Michigan today weren’t around decades ago due to major deforestation. She says new conservation efforts have brought them back.

“To come back and see bald eagles, it’s like ‘Oh my gosh’! So it’s pretty amazing, and of course all these birds, they’ve been making a comeback because they can,” she said, “I think it’s a pretty powerful statement that we’ve done some good things here to restore the land.”

Affholter said seeing new birds in the region is a promising sign the state is headed in the right direction. She said the Mackinaw Raptor Fest hopes to celebrate Michigan’s biodiversity, and welcome its aviary friends back for the summer. The MSRW said there will be events for all to enjoy, regardless of experience level.

The festival will take place April 5th-7th in Mackinaw City. More information and registration instructions can be found at