Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Early start to the spring migration

We know that northwest Ohio is one of the great migration hotspots of the continent, but it seems odd to be reminded of that as early as February 11th -- especially after some of the extreme cold and snow of the last two weeks. But I was out this morning between rain showers (and in 50-degree temperatures) near BSBO headquarters and saw two Killdeers flying over, two individuals several minutes apart, calling as they flew toward the northwest.

However, these weren't the only birds on the move. Small flocks of Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings were also flying over, also headed northwest. (Because of the configuration of the shoreline here, that's the usual direction of diurnal migrants in early spring.)

The strong southerly winds of the last couple of days probably played a role in the early appearance of the Killdeers here, giving an extra push to birds already on the move in areas south of us. Killdeers usually arrive in this area in late February, but the 11th is distinctly early. However, the other open-field birds had already shown signs of movement. Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings had all been flying over in a northward direction in this general area since the weekend. (Mark Shieldcastle saw significant numbers of all three species northbound yesterday, the 10th; Greg Links saw many Horned Larks northbound in southern Michigan on the 8th.) I've seen a few American Crows moving north as well; there's a big migration through this area in late February, and it may be under way already.

It was inspiring to have this reminder of the fact that we're located in such a fabulous area for migration! Even if the big warbler waves are still ten weeks away, there will be action from here on out as the whole spectacle unfolds. Within a couple of weeks we should have American Woodcocks displaying on territory, a movement of raptors along the lakeshore with south winds, a big influx of waterfowl, more Rusty Blackbirds, more Red-winged Blackbirds, more American Robins. It's definitely time for me to start making more frequent updates.

1 comment:

Tom Arbour said...

Hi Kenn- I recently discovered your blog, I look forward to following the migration.


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