Migration – It’s Starting!

US Composite for 1 August 2013.

Migration is starting all over the country. Shorebirds have been on the move the past few weeks, but now songbirds are on the move as well! I was not aware that songbird migration started this early, but it was brought to my attention that migration happens at Higbees Dike year round. Sam Galick witnessed a decent morning flight of passerines on July 30th. He had a lone Louisiana Waterthrush, five Northern Waterthrushes, four American Redstarts, and an impressive count of 53 Yellow Warblers! Be sure to check out the eBird Checklist for his count.

Yellow Warblers

Yellow Warblers in morning flight at Higbees Dike, New Jersey, on 30 July 2013. Photo by Sam Galick.

Migrants should be trickling south through the northeast and upper midwest throughout the month of August and will begin to heat up near the end of August and into September. Here’s this week’s update from BirdCast:

“Scattered precipitation begets a slow start to many areas of the region this weekend, with light movements occurring where it is dry. However, portions of the western Great Lakes show signs of more movements to come, with favorable conditions that facilitate light to moderate movements there early in the weekend building South and East to begin the week. However, as high pressure moves off the Carolina coast, precipitation returns to shut down migrants in most places, again with the exception of portions of the western Great Lakes where light movements continue. This precipitation is tracking a low moving East across Canada, and as it departs more northerly flow builds over parts of the region. As this happen late in the week, more favorable conditions are in place for light to moderate movements to occur in areas free of precipitation. Birds on the move this week include Blue-winged Teal, early Ospreys, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, Solitary, White-rumped, and Pectoral Sandpiper, Yellow Warbler, and American Redstart.”

American Redstart

American Redstart at Higbees Dike, New Jersey, on 30 July 2013. Photo by Sam Galick.

What have you been seeing? Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers have been increasing in numbers along the Delaware Bayshore. Pectoral, Solitary, and White-rumped Sandpipers have been around for a week or two now, but not in significant numbers.

For Fall Migration Updates, check out the following links:

Upper Midwest – Woodcreeper.com by David La Puma
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – The Northwoods BIRDAR by Max Henschell
New England – Tom Auer’s blog
Florida/SE – Badbirdz Reloaded by Angel and Mariel Abreu
PA/Ohio Valley – Nemesis Bird by Drew Weber
NW Ohio – Birding the Crane Creek by Kenn Kaufman
Pac NW – Birds Over Portland by Greg Haworth
Continental US – eBird BirdCast Forecast & Report by Team eBird

Lycoming County Spring Migrants


Spring migration has certainly picked up in the last few weeks with Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush all becoming rather common in appropriate habitat. This weekend I finally got the chance to see some new spring migrants with both Pine Warbler and Palm Warbler at Rose Valley Lake.

Purple Martins have returned to their roost on County Farm Road just north of Montoursville and Spotted Sandpiper and Green Heron have appeared at Rose Valley Lake once again. I even had my first Chimney Swift, twittering high overhead of my house.

More migrants should be showing up daily throughout the state so get out and keep your eyes open! Some of the best places in Lycoming County to find spring migrants is Rose Valley Lake, Rider Park, and Canfield Island.

NY Times on Saw-whet Owls

Check out this awesome article from the lovely people at the New York Times Environmental Blog about Northern Saw-whet Owl banding. I was privileged enough to be apart of the NSWO research crew this fall, and it is great to see these fantastic creatures getting some media coverage. Here is the link to the full story.

A Northern Saw-whet Owl just after banding – Oct 12, 2012

Also, please visit the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art Saw-whet Owl page for more information about the exciting research that has been taking place over the past 15 years.

Ducks Unlimited Migration Alert: Ducks are Flying–Just in Time for Hunters

Lesser Scaup at Presque Isle State Park on 8 November 2012

*Original post by Michael R. Shea on the Ducks Unlimited Migration Reports

By Michael R. Shea, Field & Stream’s Atlantic Flyway Duck Reporter

Cold temperatures this week are finally moving ducks south in the Atlantic Flyway. Every state in the flyway is open, or will open, this week or next. Though no serious weather is on the horizon next week, many waterfowl hunters are getting amped for what could be banner hunts.

“It’s looking awesome, awesome, awesome!” said Avery Pro Staffer Sean Fritzges. A civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when he’s not hunting geese, Fritzges oversees dredging in Baltimore harbor and channels through the Chesapeake. “I see waterfowl all day, everyday, but now it’s incredible. There are a lot of birds around and they’re steadily coming.” Maryland’s short season opens on Saturday.

Fritzges hunted last Saturday during Maryland’s youth season with his son and three school friends. By 7:30 a.m. they had three geese on the ground. By 9 a.m. they were one bird shy of an eight-bird limit. “That’s my rule, because that one bird will keep you coming back for more,” said Fritzges, who shared the photo above. “The kids had a blast!”

While geese are being reported across the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and down into the Southern states, by most accounts they are just now getting up in real numbers and moving South out of Canada and the Great Lakes. The waterfowl conservation group Long Point Waterfowl estimates Atlantic flyway ducks are at their peak in the Great Lakes region and upstate New York.

“Basically we’re at peak numbers, fantastic numbers, of waterfowl on Lake Erie,” said Rick Jackson, a college student at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Jackson started the Twitter feed @ohiowaterfowl to track birds across the region and collates reports from hunters afield.

“This recent cold front has really pushed a lot of birds,” said Jackson. “We’ve seen a ridiculous amount of Canada geese. A lot of people talked about last year being an incredible season, and that didn’t work out, but I think this year will be it.” Northeast Ohio, he said, has an uncharacteristically high mallard population this week.

Hunters in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have also reported good shoots in the last week, with no sign of things tapering off. The below-average to average temperatures are likely holding birds in northern and central New England.

Coastal hunting zones of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut open for the short early season next week. All of New Jersey’s and Pennsylvania’s waterfowlzones open by next Thursday. Delaware ducks and geese open Monday. North Carolina opened last week and Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida open Saturday.

Along the south Atlantic coast, there are plenty of birds to kill, said Froggy Thorton of Capt. Froggy’s Hunting & Fishing Guide Service in Hertford, North Carolina. “The hurricane and that Nor’Easter up north pushed a number of ducks down right off the get-go. We have divers, puddlers, and a good number of woodies.” Thorton has been hunting the Outer Banks and Pamlico Sound for more than 20 years and believes this year is shaping up to be a banner season. “A lot more ducks are here early,” he said.

Good numbers of sea ducks and scup are in open water, but redheads and canvasbacks haven’t shown up yet, according to Thornton. Some pintails, widgeon, and teal are around, as are a lot of woodies. The captain also spotted 400 to 500 snows earlier this week – a rarity for North Carolina, which usually doesn’t see white geese until middle December.

“Today, the swans came through,” he said on Wednesday. “Last night and all morning you could hear them, and in the first few hours of daylight the sky was full of swans…I think it’s looking to be an excellent year. Everyone around here is excited. It’s starting out with a bang.”

Find hunting and migration reports in your area on the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map

*Posted with permission from the folks at Ducks Unlimited*

BirdCast: Upper Midwest and Northeast 25 October – 2 November 2012

Here’s this weeks Migration Forecast from BirdCast for 25 October through 2 November:

Upper Midwest and Northeast
“As low pressure tracks near the Great Lakes, northerly and northwesterly flow prevail from the Ohio River valley west to the Plains. Moderate to heavy movements occur here to end the week and begin the weekend, and these movements spread east as the front pushes toward the Atlantic and then stalls. Farther east, conditions are not favorable for much movement as primarily southerly flow and precipitation spread east. However, far to the east, along the coast, conditions will be marginal for migration, and movements may continue to be moderate or even locally heavy if winds are light and precipitation does not fall. Much of the early week is dominated by the uncertainty of the track of Hurricane Sandy, presently slated to come ashore in New Jersey on Tuesday. Northerly flow to the west of the system may spread from the coastal plain to the Mississippi, facilitating large movements. Heavy rain, easterly and northeasterly flow begin to spread into many coastal areas shutting down all migration until the system passes. Birders should be aware that this tropical system has the potential to bring many far flung pelagic species near shore and inland. First and foremost, birders should exercise extreme caution when birding in tropical systems, particularly in coastal and low-lying areas. Given the forecast strength and the track of this system, expect many common nearshore species to be displaced to coastal and flood plain areas as the storm moves ashore. Entrained birds may appear far inland, and as of now, birders should look closely for storm-driven birds in the Delaware River system, reservoirs and inlands water bodies, and any basins connecting dots between landfall in NJ and dissociation over the eastern Great Lakes. As Sandy passes through the region by Wednesday and Thursday, intense northerly and westerly flow will overspread the region, facilitating major movements to end the week in areas that do not continue to see rain (which may be few!).”

For the Migration Forecast in your area check this weeks regional forecast.

For daily migration forecasts and updates for the northeast check out Nemesis Bird and The Birdchaser.

Good birding.