Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Fall Migration Begins

I suspect most avid birders are least enamored with summer.  Summer residents and permanent residents, well known to the local birders, have settled in for the season and are relatively inactive in the summer heat; rare vagrants, the fuel for avid birders, are all but unheard of during the summer months.  We naturalists usually turn our attention to insects, amphibians, reptiles and summer wildflowers.

But the fall migration actually begins in mid-summer as the first wave of shorebirds arrives from Arctic breeding grounds, on their way to southern beaches or wetlands.  En route, they stop to rest and feed on mudflats that line our lakes and reservoirs or in the flooded fields that thunderstorms leave in their wake.

The earliest migrants usually arrive by early-mid July and the peak of the "fall shorebird migration" generally occurs from August through September; late migrants (e.g. dunlins) may still be observed across the Heartland in early November.  Providing some consolation for bored summer birders, the migrant shorebirds also offer hope that the oppressive summer days are numbered and will eventually give way to the glorious season of autumn.