Sunday, July 11, 2010

Birds on the move!

I mentioned some of the early movement of various bird species only yesterday, but I saw more evidence of it in the last 24 hours. All four typical swallow species - Tree, Barn, Northern Rough-winged, and Bank - have young seemingly everywhere. Cliff will be on the way soon. Some of the local and early nesting warblers, specifically Yellow today, have juveniles now feeding on their own separate from the family. This was also the case for a young House Wren I saw at Stratford Point. The species does not nest on the property. However, some do only a short distance away around residential homes. The individual I saw was far into the property around the Stratford Point buildings. This is where we often find migrants or wanderers, as they fly all the way to the water of the Sound only to backtrack a couple hundred meters to the shrubs surrounding the buildings.

The photo above is of a Bobolink. I found it around the edge of Stratford Point today. It is the first of many migrants that will use the coastal grasslands management area as a stopover site. We often find impressive numbers in both the back field and grasses in front of our main building. This is an early sighting for a returning bird. The beginning is typically about two weeks from now, with most found here in August. Last year we had over 60 on some days. All of these juveniles and wanderers seem ahead of schedule because of the early breeding season. Just as in spring migration, the sun and hormonal changes in birds dictate much of their fall migration. For example, their body has to begin storing fat for the journey south. Nevertheless, it seems likely that at least a percentage of most species, from shorebirds to passerines to (I hope!) raptors, will be traveling early this summer.

There is always a distinct lack of observations in July and August. Please go outside and record your sightings to eBird. You never know what you may find. At the very least keep an eye out for early migrants or the beginning of the hawk movement.

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

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