For over 35 years the Detroit River Hawk Watch has been conducted in one form or another at Lake Erie Metropark; and the boat launch in the park has been the primary site for over 20 of those years. Today, through the efforts of such organizations as the Detroit River Wildlife Refuge, the Detroit River Wildlife Refuge Alliance, the Hawk Migration Association of North America, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks the migration of raptors over the Detroit River Hawk Watch site is monitored. The information gathered is used to study the long-term trends of our raptor species; and to educate the public through programs like those presented at the annual Hawkfest celebration at the Lake Erie Metropark Marshlands Museum.
Ford Fund supports Hawk & Owl Mew project
The Huron-Clinton Metroparks was awarded a $7500 grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund to construct three new raptor (hawk/owl) enclosures to replaces the two existing mews and offer room for an additional injured, non-releasable bird at Oakwoods Metropark Nature Center.
Ford employees will volunteer to help build the mews
The Ford Volunteer Corps volunteers will focus on constructing three updated, replacement mews in a newly designed space. The new design (see Project Plan attachment), was created to welcome visitors to observe and learn about the birds, while maintaining an unobtrusive barrier to help the birds feel safe and prevent visitors from sticking objects in the cages. It will also prevent tapping and banging on the enclosure to attract the attention of the birds. The roof of the new structure is partially open and allows more natural light, rain, and air movement into the enclosure. Its concrete floor will help with cleanup and maintenance inside the enclosure, improving cleanliness and helping preserve a healthy bird.
Ford employee volunteers, under the guidance of park staff, will help build two replacement mews, for the existing raptors, and a third, new enclosure intended to be home to a kestrel or a screech owl.
Oakwoods Metropark Nature Center birds of prey
The OMNC hosts programs for school groups, homeschoolers, families, scouts, adults, and community groups. It also offers Get Out and Learn Scholarships (GOALS), providing free transportation and programming fees for students in southeast Michigan at qualifying low-income area schools. It is committed to improving environmental and natural science literacy of students. Last year the OMNC had over 160,000 visitors and conducted 290 educational programs. The Nature Center Interpreters conduct educational programming to the general public, students from local schools, and community groups and utilize the injured, non-releasable raptors to generate curiosity as they teach about various aspects of the natural world.
The OMNC is a one of a limited number of places in the Detroit area that holds a permit to house raptors. It currently has two mews, enclosures for birds of prey, located along the walkway into the center. The two birds housed in the mews are Hawkeye, a red-tailed hawk (since 2008), and Radar, a great horned owl (since 2014), both which were previously injured and deemed non-releasable by a local State-licensed rehabilitator. The use of these birds of prey as part of the educational programming at the OMNC is a valuable tool to connect participants to environmental science programs. Hawkeye is used during certain birds-of-prey programs. Radar is a featured exhibit during the Owl Festival, and at Owl Prowl events. Both birds provide an effective means to interpret birds of prey, native species, rehabilitation, keeping animals in captivity, and more.