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By Ellen Jakubowski, Communications and Brand Manager, Birds Canada

A huge thank-you to all of you who support bird conservation through the annual Great Canadian Birdathon®! The James L. Baillie Memorial Fund is one way your support is put into action. The fund channels part of the proceeds from the Birdathon and private donations to research, conservation, and outreach projects that help birds. 

One project funded in 2022 focuses on the Broad-winged Hawk: a crow-sized, stocky, brown-and-white bird of prey. It breeds in forests across much of Canada and the eastern U.S. and migrates to Central and South America to spend the winter. On these long-distance journeys, Broad-winged Hawks are spotted at hawkwatching sites. Sometimes thousands of them come together and circle high above, creating a swirling spectacle called a “kettle”

Data from migration counts and breeding bird atlasses suggest some populations of these hawks are declining. However, a different type of research is needed to find out where these birds travel throughout their life cycle and guide conservation efforts. To fill in critical knowledge gaps, researchers with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and their partners have been tagging Broad-winged Hawks in different parts of North America, tracking their movements in detail using satellite transmitters.

A Broad-winged Hawk nicknamed “Muskoka,” with a satellite transmitter Photo: Rebecca McCabe

In 2022, the researchers tagged four birds in Ontario in order to learn about the migration routes, migration stopovers, and wintering sites of birds that breed in this part of Canada. The researchers will continue to track these birds over the next few years to monitor their survival and study land cover at potential nest sites and surrounding available habitat. All of this will be used to inform conservation planning recommendations for Canadian-breeding Broad-winged Hawks.

The Baillie Fund grant contributed to the cost of the transmitter for a female Broad-winged Hawk nicknamed “Muskoka.” Muskoka was tagged in August 2022 in Kilworthy, ON, with the collaboration of local raptor banders from the Simcoe Raptor Research Group. As of October 2022, the tracking map shows Muskoka has flown all the way to Colombia! You can keep track of the progress of Muskoka and the other hawks here: www.hawkmountain.org/birdtracker 

Thank you to research biologist Dr. Rebecca McCabe for updating us on this exciting project!

Map showing Muskoka’s migration from Ontario to Guaviare, Colombia

2022 Great Canadian Birdathon Update

Thank you once again to all of you who participated in the Great Canadian Birdathon, and to those who have donated in support. The Birdathon prize draw for participants will be happening in early 2023. If you haven’t contributed yet this year, it’s not too late! You can make a gift for conservation and help us reach our $200,000 goal for the year by visiting this page: birdscanada.org/birdathon 

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