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Fall Migration 2022


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I saw an American Redstart this morning, which doesn't breed at the park I was at but surely breeds 5 or 10 miles away. I also saw a Warbling Vireo, which breeds there ... but I was hoping that it was a Philadelphia, which would totally be a migrant. Oh well, maybe next time I'll see a migrant.

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Can definitely feel it getting chillier here. Prospects for fall migration here are looking dim though, as the flowering dogwoods in my yard are producing very little fruit, almost nothing and only a tiny fraction of last year's crop. Since these trees played a big role in attracting migrants to my yard last year, I doubt I'll see much since I'm basically confined to my neighborhood.

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Why does migration seem to start in the midwest and east?  Are there more birds there, in general?

I am watching the BirdCast and seeing low migration numbers in California.  Which birds migrate here first and which birds are migrating now?  I didn't realize it has already started.  I am late, as usual!

Thank you.

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1 hour ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

Can definitely feel it getting chillier here. Prospects for fall migration here are looking dim though, as the flowering dogwoods in my yard are producing very little fruit, almost nothing and only a tiny fraction of last year's crop. Since these trees played a big role in attracting migrants to my yard last year, I doubt I'll see much since I'm basically confined to my neighborhood.

Is there a stream, pond, or natural source of water in your neighborhood? In my experience, it can be tough to find mixed feeding flocks, as they are sporadic. But, I’ve found they are much more common by water. For example, during migration I almost always find good flocks at Delta Park which is on Lake Champlain, and at a nature center in Montpelier which is along the Winooski river. But at my house I have to catch a flock moving through. 

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1 minute ago, Avery said:

Is there a stream, pond, or natural source of water in your neighborhood? In my experience, it can be tough to find mixed feeding flocks, as they are sporadic. But, I’ve found they are much more common by water. For example, during migration I almost always find good flocks at Delta Park which is on Lake Champlain, and at a nature center in Montpelier which is along the Winooski river. But at my house I have to catch a flock moving through. 

There is one small pond that occasionally has a couple of Wood Ducks in it, and the Mohawk River isn't that far away. I should probably check around that pond sometime, it seems like it could have some promise during migration.

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21 hours ago, Mrs_C said:

Why does migration seem to start in the midwest and east?  Are there more birds there, in general?

I am watching the BirdCast and seeing low migration numbers in California.  Which birds migrate here first and which birds are migrating now?  I didn't realize it has already started.  I am late, as usual!

Thank you.

Okay, a lot of this post is based on general understanding picked up over the years, with no detailed knowledge behind it.  Hopefully others will provide more details and correct me where I'm too badly mistaken.

Migration routes are strongly affected by geography.  Most species avoid flying over open water until the last possible moment.  Many also don't want to expend the energy to get over mountains, so the Rockies and Appalachians funnel birds through the center of the country.  The western coastal ranges in particular leave a relatively narrow land path between themselves and the Pacific.  If a bird is coming out of Canada, the path between the two major mountain ranges is the widest, easiest one.

Food sources en route also play a big role.  Fresh water sources provide fish, insects, etc.  Agricultural land makes good gleaning.  Both are more readily and abundantly found through the center of the continent.

Weather is another big factor.  Another reason many species avoid the ranges is that it just gets colder at night up there.  That means more energy expended to stay warm.  Prevailing wind direction is critical; I believe the Pacific coast winds tend to blow mostly from the west, as opposed to the heartland where winds at least somewhat toward the south are more common.

As to timing, some tundra-nesting birds started heading south back in mid-July, possibly earlier.  They're only up there long enough to stuff the abundant insects down the hatchling's throats and then get out as soon as possible. 

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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On 9/2/2022 at 10:14 AM, Mrs_C said:

Why does migration seem to start in the midwest and east?  Are there more birds there, in general?

I am watching the BirdCast and seeing low migration numbers in California.  Which birds migrate here first and which birds are migrating now?  I didn't realize it has already started.  I am late, as usual!

Thank you.

Coincidentally, this showed up in my inbox yesterday:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/the-basics-how-why-and-where-of-bird-migration?utm_campaign=bird academy general&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=224758561&_hsenc=p2ANqtz--k2IGEkDxsK8YlWblOyz0SW8bIHI1Ae3jLOijlUdJX1mQkyHKB5LgB-j17JHr4FxLPH8hE1JJQVO4VSv9IHg0vZRaphw&utm_content=224758560&utm_source=hs_email

Let's see how far off base I was.  :classic_biggrin:

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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@Charlie Spencer!!  Thank you so very much for your detailed and thorough reply.  I don't get out into the world much anymore, so I am limited to the birds in our garden and what I can see from a little beyond.  I am looking forward to the Townsend's Warblers, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, and White-throated Sparrows.  I know there are so many more that fly by so just thinking of those mystery birds migrating through is very exciting.  Thank you, again, very much.

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FOY Barred Owl, which also was Audio recording lifer, and first September record.

Red-shouldered Hawk flagged rare, also Audio recording lifer, and first September record.

Forster's Tern flagged rare, a first September record for me.  

Cliff Swallow and Golden-winged Warbler were also first September records for me.  Yellow-rumped Warbler x3 flagged as early.  Lots of other assorted warblers.  63 birds today, with 12 warblers.  Not bad at all.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’ve had a good few Leasts as well, and a Yellow-bellied the other day. Also, I’ve found 2 BBCU so far this fall, one of which (this morning) is a third county record! And somehow I still haven’t seen any Black Terns in TN…

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This afternoon I went to a place near my house where Mourning Warbler was found this morning. Of course I didn't see it, however I did see three Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and two Common Yellowthroats. Yesterday morning at a different place I saw one grosbeak, a Brown Thrasher, and two different warblers. Slim pickings maybe, but that's the way it is.

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First geese started to migrate here yesterday, and robins are briefly back for fall migration since disappearing in early August. 

1 hour ago, Peromyscus said:

This afternoon I went to a place near my house where Mourning Warbler was found this morning. Of course I didn't see it, however I did see three Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and two Common Yellowthroats. Yesterday morning at a different place I saw one grosbeak, a Brown Thrasher, and two different warblers. Slim pickings maybe, but that's the way it is.

That's not too bad, it's pretty much the same here. Still missing Brown Thrasher on my life list though.

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@Charlie Spencer That Audubon Migration Tool is AMAZING!!  What a great time to be a birder.  Thank you!!

Two Townsend's Warblers showed up today and it was such a wonderful surprise!  I wish they'd stay forever.  Really cheered me up after watching two separate golfing groups chasing down the Canada Geese with their carts and running after them on foot.  One of the geese is flightless (broken wing) and others are finishing up their molt, so there was much scrambling toward the pond.  Such ill-mannered humans.

Thank you, again.  I can't wait to really dig in!

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6 hours ago, Mrs_C said:

Really cheered me up after watching two separate golfing groups chasing down the Canada Geese with their carts and running after them on foot.

I'd report them to the course management.  If you know it, include the hole and an estimate of the time.  Based on tee times, they may be able to estimate who it was.

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Had my first of season Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Savanah Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler this morning. Also for the first time this fall I had decent numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-crowned Sparrow, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. 

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