Bear with me!
What’s become clear to me over the past two springs is that this count needs to continue beyond the three year survey period envisioned by the fine people who put it together. As a scientific project, this count provides essential coverage in the central flyway that HMANA uses to help assess the health of raptor populations nationwide. (Unlike the northeastern US, there are relatively few hawkwatches in the Midwest.) As an educational initiative, this count exposes hundreds of people firsthand each spring to the migration spectacle with an intimacy that is almost unparalleled anywhere else. (Seriously. Where else do birds routinely pass so close that they sometimes almost hit people and parked cars?) As a conservation initiative, the data this count produced in 2010 and 2011 played a significant role in securing the grant from the Michigan DNR Trust Fund so the Township of Eagle Harbor (with help from several partnering organizations) could purchase the top of Brockway Mountain this summer. (That means that the very spot we conduct our counts will become protected space permanently!) As a focal point for ecotourism, this count functions as a healthy incentive for thousands of people to come visit and spend money in the Keweenaw Peninsula, one that doesn’t require bulldozing more forest or turning towns into theme parks. (Even the thought gives me chills!) So this count is a win-win for everyone involved, and it’s one of those odd exceptions where what’s healthy for business is healthy for the birds.
So, I’m asking for your help! On May 31, shy of just one week from now, I will begin a Raptorthon atop Brockway at nautical twilight to raise funds for both the Keweenaw Raptor Survey and the Hawk Migration Association of North America. Last year’s Raptorthon at Brockway raised over $1100, and helped stay some of the requisite costs in running this count for a full season. Please help support this count by writing me with your pledge (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) today. (Or you can also donate directly via HMANA.) Because I’m asking you to dig into your pockets, it’s only right that I dig into mine, so I’m personally pledging $5 for each raptor species I see, and $0.50 for each non-raptor species I see or hear; and to make things interesting, I’ll kick in another $50 if the total raptor count at the end of the day exceeds 500 birds as it did last year. Naturally, if you can be at least so generous, we would be ever so grateful, but whether big or small, your pledge/donation matters!
Thank you for allowing me this soapbox for so worthy a project. It has been my distinct honor to serve as counter both this year and last, and it is my wish to see that this count continue long into the future.