Keynote Speaker

David Cuthrell (Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group presenter) is a conservation scientist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, part of MSU Extension. He has assisted with a variety of rare species surveys throughout the state and has worked with Northern Goshawks and Red-shouldered Hawks for over two decades. Believing that “conservation requires knowledge and action,” he disseminates information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan DNR, and through publications, training workshops, and participation in many professional organizations. When he is not chasing bugs or sloshing through prairie fens, he enjoys time with his family and umpiring baseball.

Plenary Speaker

Josh Haas, past President of Battle Creek Audubon, first developed a love for hawks working with the birds of prey at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. A hawkwatching trip to Lake Erie Metropark opened his eyes to hawks in migration. Perplexed by seeing specks at a distance with an overwhelming itch to know what they were, he started learning from veteran hawk watchers and was hooked. He spent seven seasons helping the Detroit River Hawkwatch as a relief counter. His goal of making hawks accessible to everyone spawned the “Hawks on the Wing” instructional video on identifying hawks in flight. Josh co-owns Hawks at a Glance and Glances At Nature Photography where he sells his work, teaches lessons and workshops, and leads bird photography trips around the Midwest.

Session Presenters

Nick Alioto graduated from Bishops University in Quebec, Canada in 2016.  He then trained at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory in Ontario, part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network on the north shore of Lake Superior.  He worked as Assistant Owl Bander for MSRW in 2017, gaining more experience that advanced his career.   In 2018, he managed both the passerine and owl research at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Center in northern Ontario.  He returned to MSRW for two more owl seasons as Lead Bander and volunteered with diurnal raptor trapping and banding American Kestrel nestlings.  In 2019, he worked for the University of Illinois on an Eastern Whip-poor-will project using GPS and VHF transmitters, and was the principal summer hawk trapper for Boise State's Intermountain Bird Observatory.  See a recent presentation by Nick at

Andrew Dennhardt is a doctoral student at Michigan State University who won a Student Scholarship to attend the 2019 Mackinaw Raptor Fest.  He has studied raptors for >10 years at Southern Illinois University, various contract positions, and as a Master’s student at West Virginia University.  He has worked at various times with peregrine falcons, northern spotted owls, northern goshawks, barn owls, osprey, and bald and golden eagles.  A self-described quantitative population and community ecologist, he is eager to further develop his scientific communication and outreach skills and further raptor ecology, conservation, and management.

Russ Edmonds recently retired from a large manufacturing company where he worked as an Environmental Engineer.   He attended his first hawk watch in 1975, has observed raptor migration at eight watch sites in the Great Lakes region since then, has volunteered at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth Minnesota for over 20 years, and has belonged to Hawk Migration Association of North America since 2004.  Russ and his wife Ann are retiring from Indiana to a cabin on Brimley Bay in the UP, with plans to be more active with Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.

Sarah Gilmore. Sarah, working with Michigan Avian Experience, has always called Michigan home. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan with a concentration in environmental education.  Sarah has been teaching for a decade and having more fun on the job than she ever thought possible. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation and in 2015 was awarded the Region 4 "Outstanding New Interpreter Award" through the same organization. Working directly with injured non-releasable birds of prey for nearly a decade, Sarah has learned many lessons from these amazing predators and delivered hundreds of raptor programs crisscrossing the state and beyond.

Netawn Kiogima, Dodemak Naagdowin– Anishinaabe Clan System.  Aanii, Mino Bimose Kwe ndizhnikaaz, Migizi ndodem. Odawa Waganakising ndonjibaa. Anishinaabe kwe ndaaw.

Hello, my Anishinaabe name is Good Walking Woman and my birth name is Netawn Alice Kiogima. I am from the Bald Headed Eagle Clan.  I come to you from the Land of the Crooked Tree , Biidaasige. I am an Anishinaabe, People of the Three Fires, Odawa woman.  I am the daughter of Archie Jr. and Regina Sr. Kiogima of Waganakising. I have been married for over 20 years to Robert Smith, Ojibwe from LCO, Wisconsin. We have two beautiful children and we are grandparents to our first amazing granddaughter this past Fall.  As native people, we are related to our dodeman, or clan. Traditionally, our clan system was our governing system and everybody had a role. The whole community was involved and we all took care of each other.   I take my Eagle Clan role very serious and I would love to share with you that important part of my life and how it is relevant to our society. 

Miigwech (thank you)

Francie Krawcke.  Francie's Dad once asked her what she wanted to do with her life.  Be happy was her response.  Little did he know at the time she was to embark on over a 20-year journey that would take her to 35 different states and 2 countries teaching with birds of prey.  With degrees from Northern Michigan University and Certified Interpretative Guide from the National Association of Interpretation, Francie is specifically trained in theory and practice of interpretation and environmental education.  She has presented at national and international conferences, teacher training workshops, developed environmental conservation curriculum and had loads of fun.  As Executive Director of Michigan Avian Experience,  she enjoys sharing these birds to help others be happy too.

Kim Nowack, P.E. received her Civil Engineering degree from Michigan Technological University in 1985 and immediately started her career with the Michigan Department of Transportation.  In 2002, Kim accepted the position of Chief Engineer for the Mackinac Bridge Authority where she was responsible for all engineering and maintenance oversight of the bridge. She was the first woman to hold this position in the Bridge Authority’s 60+ year history.  Kim was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Mackinac Bridge in 2019 and is the first woman to hold this position.  Kim is active in the International Cable Supported Bridge Owners Association and presents papers at international conferences.  She serves on the Transportation Research Board,  tasked with revising the federal guidelines for inspections of suspension bridge main cable systems.   Kim was recently inducted into the MTU Academy of Civil and Environmental Engineers.

Bill Parsons works as the Inland Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the Natural Resource Department of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.  Bill grew up in Mason MI and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Conservation from Central Michigan University. His education and experience with CMU began his exploration of northern Michigan fish and wildlife resources, launching a passion that continues today. Bill joined the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Natural Resource Department in 2002 and works as a biologist on many fish and wildlife projects in the 1836 Treaty Ceded Territory of Michigan. Bill lives in Bliss with his girlfriend and dogs and is an avid outdoorsman, fisherman and hunter.

Bob Pettit gained his love for spotting and counting birds from his mother and ornithologist father.  He earned his Masters degree in Ornithology from Central Michigan University and became a Biology Professor at Monroe County Community College. Bob co-founded the Erie Shores Birding Association, chaired the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory and the Hawk Migration Association of North America, and was president of the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory. He has volunteered as raptor observer for over 30 years, amassing 1,500+ hours of observation, and has conducted workshops on hawk identification for over 25 years.  For Bob, it’s not about racking up a list of species. It’s about camaraderie and giving a little something back, ‘seeing it, sharing it with other folks, and then sharing the data with the world so we can see the health of our environment.’

Will Weber, Ph.D. co-founded the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory and serves on the advisory committee of the Detroit River Hawk Watch.  As a board member of the Hawk Migration Association of North America for more than two decades, he was instrumental in developing HMANA’s HawkCount database and the Raptor Population Index which utilizes HawkCount data.  He co-founded Journeys International, Inc., and has led more than 60 international nature and culture expeditions to Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.

Interpreters and Field Trip Leaders

Brian Allen is an optometrist working in Manistee, married to Maripat Allen with two sons, a daughter-in-law and a grandson.  He graduated from MSU and the Michigan College of Optometry.  He volunteered in the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa, has traveled to 20 countries and loves birding the tropics and Michigan, especially under-birded regions.  He was an editor to the American Birding Association Guide to Michigan and member of the Michigan Bird Records Committee.  Brian currently serves as an eBird reviewer for NW Michigan.

Steve Baker, a retired veterinarian from Indian River, has observed raptor migration in the Straits of Mackinac since the early 1980s.  He serves on the Board of Directors of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch and has been the principal volunteer spring hawk counter since 2011 as well as helping with waterbirds.  Steve leads field trips and gives programs for several Audubon societies and land conservancies.  He enjoys botanizing (especially for native orchids and ferns), kayaking, hiking, taking nature photographs, and trying to learn the dragonflies.

Greg Bodker has been a serious birder since 2006, combining his interest in nature, and photography. Greg has led birding trips for Michigan Audubon and served on its Board of Directors for three years.  He enjoys delivering birding and nature education presentations to audiences throughout Michigan and in Texas.  Greg has birded in all of Michigan’s 83 counties and in most of North America.  He is excited to report he saw his 625th North American bird species, a Tufted Duck, in Southwest Michigan in 2019.  Greg was named as a winner in Michigan Nature Association’s 2018 and 2019 photo contests.

Kathy Bricker and her husband Jim took courses and worked in water quality research at the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston throughout the 1970s.  Kathy served as the first executive director of Little Traverse Conservancy before they moved to Washington, D.C. for two decades, where she ended her working career at the Ocean Conservancy.  They enjoy travel to remote places, especially in northern Canada, to see stars, birds, and wildlife.  These experiences have provided materials for several films and slide shows that they offer, including Raving About Raptors.  In 2005, Kathy and Jim retired to the Bricker family cottage on Burt Lake and to Cheboygan, where they volunteer to conserve the night sky and wildlife habitat. 

Leonard Graf is a licensed bird bander who has birded on all seven continents. He brings over 25 years of experience as a part time volunteer hawk and waterbird counter at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Leonard has spent over 20 years leading winter birding tours to Sault Ste. Marie and leads state wide birding trips for local Audubon clubs. He co-authored the annotated checklist, “Birds of Leelanau County and Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.” 

Bev Kirby has long been an avid birder, volunteering with Michigan Audubon’s Winter Bird Feeder Survey and Cornell University’s Project Feederwatch since the beginning of both citizen science programs.  She volunteered and watched hawks at Mackinac Straits for many years before Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch was founded and continues as volunteer greeter whenever she can.  Bev worked at Birmingham Public School District for 35 years.  A native Canadian, Bev is seldom seen without a smile on her face and her husband Jack by her side.

Dave Mayberry works in landscape design and execution.  For this, he travels frequently to Mackinac Island where he has observed the spring raptor migration for many years.  He serves on the Board of Directors of Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, which he co-founded.  He created the public information kiosks at the hawk and owl research sites and manages MSRW’s merchandise effort.

Ed Pike, retired from Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, has conducted bird research for four decades.  As a licensed bird bander, he studied Barn Swallows and Piping Plovers, serving on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Piping Plover Recovery Team and chairing the D.N.R.'s Piping Plover Recovery Team. Wanting to learn the importance of the Straits of Mackinac to raptors, he secured funding for the first spring hawk count in 2004 and has banded more than 2,000 owls of eight species, working both spring and fall migrations as a volunteer.  Ed co-founded and chairs the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch.

Bruce Seeger relocated to Cheboygan from downstate a decade ago.  Interested in birds for most of his life, he joined Straits Area Audubon Society and participates in the annual Cheboygan Christmas Bird Counts. Seeger learned about the Hawk Count from an article in the Cheboygan Daily Tribune announcing that professional counter Kevin Georg was hired to do the first count.  Seeger credits Kevin Georg for teaching him much about raptors and their identification during countless hours at the hawk watch over five years, including the magical day when nearly five thousand red-tail hawks were counted.

     Every year thousands of hawks, eagles, vultures, and owls follow the contours of Lakes Michigan and Huron, ending up at the Straits of Mackinac where they must cross a 5-mile expanse of water. To save energy, the birds use rising air drafts to lift them high in the air, and then they glide across the Straits.

     The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch inventories these birds as well as waterfowl as they migrate and promotes their observation to the public. To see our work, along with photos and migrating numbers, visit our website at

      Interpreters will be on hand all day to help you spot and identify the birds and share stories about them. There is no charge for this activity.