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Spring Migration summary #14860985 05/09/20
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Major cool front, May 10th, wind out of the North, last opportunity for a big day on the coast. Left the house at 4:30, two hours to the coast, could be there at first light.

Didn’t do it. Never fun driving my high-mileage vehicles out of town. Plus I got twenty-plus parent/guardians to try and contact by phone or email before it’s too late to tell em little Johnny or Janie ain’t been turning stuff in online. Got a month left, gotta act now while there’s still time, if you can reach em at all.

So, sitting in a gas station parking lot on the West Side waiting for daylight, gonna hit the downtown parks instead.

Not expecting much, used to be those places downtown were reliable hotspots, recent advances in radar show us city lights concentrate migrants. But them same advances tell us migrant numbers been declining by about 5% per year.

Adds up, most migration passes East of here, we are on the edge of the river, prob’ly why the numbers we get locally ain’t been nothing like what we would expect 10 years back.


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14861001 05/09/20
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we see a lot of variety here in SE VA as they come and go. goldfinches now, are the flashiest ones. bluebirds nesting on the back deck. a militant gang of Canada geese are terrorizing the mallards in front yard lately.

I saw what I thought was extremely rare last year for this locale; whitewing doves in the front yard for a few days.
Birding friend kinda said "Meh..." smile

Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14861249 05/09/20
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Pretty sure I saw a rough-leg hawk while golfing yesterday - kind of uncommon here this time of year. They're hard to ID for sure with all their color variations, but it for sure was not a more usual red-tail.

I discovered why my hummies were unhappy with my feeders - went to refill them and found mold growing inside. Cleaned them rigorously with alcohol and then vinegar, put them back out and now the birds are happy.

In other news, I planted bird seed but no birds have sprouted yet...


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: kid0917] #14864161 05/10/20
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Originally Posted by kid0917
I saw what I thought was extremely rare last year for this locale; whitewing doves in the front yard for a few days.
Birding friend kinda said "Meh..." smile


White wings been on a roll for sure, I just found out that San Antonio has the largest concentration of white wings anywhere in the World, more’n two million. Anyhoo what’s holding back white wings is their feet. Basically they are a tropical species and their toes freeze off in prolonged cold.


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: RockyRaab] #14864166 05/10/20
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Originally Posted by RockyRaab
Pretty sure I saw a rough-leg hawk while golfing yesterday - kind of uncommon here this time of year.


Anything is possible, once an arctic loon got grounded in a rainstorm in a shopping mall parking lot here in San Antonio, and that was in July.

But a ferruginous hawk which sort of has a similar shape to a rough leg is far more likely where you’re at, especially this time of year.


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864302 05/10/20
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Canadian geese are a pita at least our Catahoula is killing a few of gooselings. He hides and waits for the geese to bring the gooselings into the yard and then the party is over. Electric fence doesn't work on geese.


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864393 05/10/20
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Right then, a summary. For me spring migration season is about a month long, second week of April through second week of May. Of course it starts maybe a month earlier and peters out two weeks later but the numbers are much lower.

#1 Target for me I got this year.... I see one every two or three years.... the Cerulean Warbler, a little guy not a whole lot bigger than a hummingbird. What makes them special is that they winter on the slopes of the cloud forests of the Northern Andes as part of mixed flocks of Tropical species following army ant swarms, only one cerulean per swarm. (bird photos lifted from the 'net}.

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

What ya gotta look at in the photo are the long primary wing feathers projecting halfway down the tail and the long undertail coverts imparting a streamlined shape. These are long-hop migrants. They leave the Andes direct to the highlands of Central America, fuel up, and from there its a direct flight to North America. In North America they breed in the tall canopy of old growth forests. So they need forests in South America, Central America and the US. Habitat is increasing here in recent decades as our second-growth forest mature but they are getting hammered down south.

They breed in the Mississippi Valley and northeast of there, highest densities in the Appalachians. This here's the female, which is drab for a reason....

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

Long wings on a bird are like a high gear on a bicycle, you can cruise fast and far but it takes a while to get up to speed. Forest birds don't generally fly fast and far, when a hawk shows they generally jet as fast as they can to the nearest cover, and have long tails so that they can twist and turn on the way there. Hence they have shorter wings, like low gears on a bicycle, that get up to top speed right way.

To compensate, cerulean warblers build a hummingbird like nest on top of a high branch that has open space beneath, they need to do this because when flushed they first plummet straight down to gain speed. I have no idea how the nests escape blue jays and squirrels, but obviously enough do.

This here is the Hudson Highlands, that's the Bear Mountain Bridge, just about 30 miles upriver from Manhattan. When I was in high school these woods were too young to support cerulean warblers, now they do. This is how I know I am getting old smile

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

So a four inch and change bird flies all the way from Ecuador to those woods, arriving in May, breeds, turns around and leaves end of June/early July. Can't blink or you'll miss 'em.

Draw a straight line from Guatemala to the Northeast US and you'll see Texas is well west of that line, we gotta have sustained east winds, north or south, to blow 'em this war west.

Always an occasion to find one, they do pass through here but are far more likely on the coast, I found a female down there this year, two males two years earlier.

Last edited by Birdwatcher; 05/10/20.

"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864434 05/10/20
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I thought you meant Meskins at first.

Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864468 05/10/20
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Was seeing a Downy Woodpecker for a while, a couple weeks ago, out back here.


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864490 05/10/20
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Interesting Mike.

Goldfinches here now, they seem to like the dandelion seeds in my messy lawn and garden. Mourning doves every once in a while, Saw a golden eagle a few miles from the house Friday, heard chickadees on our forest walk. Swallows all over the place, a few different types. Blackbirds and cowbirds come to the feeder along with the usual quail and collared doves. Kingbirds have been back for a week or so.

Speaking of which, Mike do you know if they rob nests? We have some swallows (Tree or Violet Green) using a bluebird box and the kingbirds have been hanging around it in the mornings. This morning one of the swallows was grabbed on to the box covering the opening with his back exposed Kingbirds were flitting around and sometimes landing 8'-10' away on the barbwire. Never saw that behavior last year.

We have some willets in the neighborhood. Have been hearing them sing in the mornings when out feeding chickens for the past couple of springs. They hang out behind my neighbor (1/4 mile away) and although I've seen something flying I couldn't ID them. Having seen some down by the reservoir a couple of miles away, and having a feeling it was a shorebird sound, I got on the Cornell site and sure as heck same noise. Never figured on them being out here in the sagebrush, but there's a little seasonal creek over their way.

Killdeer are here too, along with a variety of hawks and on occasion I believe I see a prairie falcon besides the regular kestrels.

Always some LBBs flying over too.


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In it is contentment
In it is death and all you seek
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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864492 05/10/20
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Baltimore Orioles, barn swallows, and our resident Catbird showed up here in last week, i saw a female yellow rumped warbler last week too. Saw a bald eagle harassing a red fox while driving into town last weekend, not sure if it was trying to make the fox a meal, steal it's catch, or going after a kit. We went back and took a second look and the eagle was perched in a small tree and the red fox was hunkered down laying in the grass nearby.

Last edited by Squidge; 05/10/20.

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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: poboy] #14864541 05/10/20
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Originally Posted by poboy
Was seeing a Downy Woodpecker for a while, a couple weeks ago, out back here.



I seen a brood of Downys out of the nest yesterday in the park. We are right on the far edge of the Downy's range down here, its mostly the slightly larger and closely related Ladder-back around here.


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864555 05/10/20
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Yeah, I see Ladderbacks mainly. The Downy is smallish.


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Valsdad] #14864590 05/10/20
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Originally Posted by Valsdad
Goldfinches here now, they seem to like the dandelion seeds in my messy lawn and garden.


Goldfinches are among the few songbirds completely adapted to a herbivorous diet. They even feed their young seeds and don't breed until later in the summer after the seed crop has matured. Cowbirds try to parasitize goldfinch nests (heck, they try to parasitize everything, a female cowbird can lay 50 eggs in the spring). Young cowbirds in a goldfinch nest invariably starve, they cannot survive on seeds, the only downside is the female cowbird generally removes an egg from every nest she hits, she needs the protein, fats and calcium to be able to lay all those eggs.

Quote
Speaking of which, Mike do you know if they rob nests? We have some swallows (Tree or Violet Green) using a bluebird box and the kingbirds have been hanging around it in the mornings. This morning one of the swallows was grabbed on to the box covering the opening with his back exposed Kingbirds were flitting around and sometimes landing 8'-10' away on the barbwire. Never saw that behavior last year.


Birds are best thought of as the little feathered dinosaurs that they are, generally speaking a bird will eat anything it can fit down its tough and leathery gullet. Once I seen a purple martin fledgling, about as big as a cardinal fully grown but unable to fly, leave the nest and fall to the ground. A flock of about fifty grackles immediately lifted up off of a nearby lawn, landed all around it and commenced to peck it to death.

IIRC Kingbirds aren't known for robbing nests, but I'm sure they would if given the opportunity.


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14864628 05/10/20
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Just a few minutes ago, saw the first confirmed bird at my new feeder - a lazuli bunting. What a wonderful start!


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: hanco] #14864638 05/10/20
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Originally Posted by hanco
I thought you meant Meskins at first.

This. I was going to say give thanks to Trump, but darn, I guess nothing is being done.


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14867582 05/11/20
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Rocky, I sure miss the Lazuli Buntings that we used to get at our feeder in the foothills of the Blue Mountains east of Walla Walla, WA.

Birdwatcher- I usually see Cerulean Warblers about 20 miles west of my home here in Michigan but I have not yet. They are typically found right near a bridge on a certain road. I might try for them this weekend.

So far this year locally I have added a few new lifers to my list including Short-eared Owl in January and this spring Ross's Goose (according to another knowledgeable birder- I would have called it a Snow Goose), yellow-headed blackbird, Barred Owl, Wilson's Phalarope and Gray-cheeked Thrush.

I have seen the usual Black-throated Green, Palm, Yellow-rumped, Blackburnian, Black-and-white warblers as well and yesterday my first of the year Scarlet Tanager.

I was stoked to get this picture of a Blue-headed Vireo last Saturday.

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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14867606 05/11/20
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Thanks birdy for the finch info. Never knew all that.

The orioles have shown up, one going at the window screen yesterday after a bug.

Have seen a Lewis' woodpecker or two in the area.

Warblers? Who knows. Little dickie birds abound, flying and flitting around with gleeful abandon.

rufous, cool pic of the vireo!


The desert is a true treasure for him who seeks refuge from men and the evil of men.
In it is contentment
In it is death and all you seek
(Quoted from "The Bleeding of the Stone" Ibrahim Al-Koni)

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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: rufous] #14867904 05/11/20
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Nice photo of a blue-headed vireo, we have a few all winter down here.

I got my best ever look at a grey-cheeked down on the coast last week, sometimes hard to pick 'em out amid all the Swainson's (photos from the 'net).....

Our southern and northernmost thrush; winters in the Amazon and Orinoco River Basins and breeds in brush up against Tundra.....

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

'Nother warbler I always look for are American Redstarts, pretty little birds, habitat generalists at both ends, still common. Pretty little birds, I seen a male and two females on the coast.

We had 'em all over New York State in summer but the most I've ever seen was up in Minnesota in June, singing and displaying males all over the place. 'Course if they eat blackflies up there, no wonder there's a lot of 'em.

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]


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Re: Spring Migration summary [Re: Birdwatcher] #14867920 05/11/20
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Had a Baltimore Oriole show up at the hummingbird feeder this morning. Unusual for East Texas.

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