Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eastern Phoebes: 2013 vs. 2012

It does not take a meteorologist to tell you that March 2013 was substantially colder than March 2012 when much of Connecticut enjoyed temperatures in the 70s and 80s for days on end. While pushing through the bitterly cold month I frequently spent time amusingly bemused at what it must have been like in spring before climate change started adjusting our temperatures upward during the past century. When you go back and read historical accounts of birds in Connecticut you will find very different spring arrival dates for everything from the common birds that breed in our yards to the most rare that move on to our north.

I wanted to take a quick look at one of the most common and well-known early spring arrivals, the Eastern Phoebe. I have not been outdoors much at all besides spending time on the shore at Stratford Point or on some of the state's beaches and marshes for my role as coordinator of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds. Nevertheless, one would have expected to find an Eastern Phoebe in some of these migratory stopover sites in March. This was not the case as my first of the season bird did not come until April 6!

Here are maps of sightings of Eastern Phoebes in 2013 followed by 2012 taken from eBird data.

That certainly looks extremely different to me. How about the raw data? There were 32 recorded for the month of March 2013, and 26 of those came from March 26-31. For the month of March 2012 I had to get a calculator out as we had 856 individuals! March 11-15 had 43 individuals alone, beating the entirety of 2013. They peaked before the end of the month with 360 coming from March 21-25.

What a difference a year makes, huh?

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

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