Saturday, April 23, 2011

Update April 23: songbirds, raptors

Saturday, April 23:  Mark Shieldcastle, Research Director for Black Swamp Bird Observatory, reports that the main BSBO banding station (on the Navarre Unit of Ottawa NWR, a few miles east of Magee Marsh) had a good push of migrants today.  Hermit Thrushes and White-throated Sparrows dominated, but there were 8 species of warblers recorded also.  Biggest surprises were a Great Crested Flycatcher and a Northern Parula.  Mark reports that Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet were in relatively low numbers; he suggests that they may arrive in force next week, as these are usually among the dominant species in this period.  We both have been looking at the weather forecasts to try to figure out what will happen next, and it still appears that Tuesday or Wednesday, the 26th or 27th, may produce a good arrival of songbird migrants. 

To see results of the banding operation at Navarre, go to:

As expected with the warm temperatures and southwest winds, a good hawk flight developed by the middle of the day today. Conditions were right for these migrating raptors – moving north on a broad front across Ohio – to concentrate near the lake shore, moving west-northwest to continue their migration around the west end of Lake Erie at Toledo. I spent the period from about 1:10 to 3:40 p.m. today on the observation tower (“hawkwatch tower”) near the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, and counted the following apparent migrants:

Turkey Vulture 55 (see note below)
Osprey 3
Bald Eagle 4 (immatures – didn’t count the resident nesting pair)
Sharp-shinned Hawk 47
Cooper’s Hawk 19
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 11 (see note below)
Red-tailed Hawk 5 (evident migrants – didn’t count apparent local residents)
Merlin 1
The tally of Turkey Vultures and Broad-winged Hawks certainly would have been higher if I had been counting a little earlier and/or a little farther south. Around 12:30 p.m. I saw significant numbers of both along State Route 2 between SR 19 and the entrance to Magee Marsh. They were moving west, more or less paralleling the highway. It’s my impression that some of the soaring raptors may tend to stay south of the open marshes on these windy days. Other birds, such as some of the Accipiters, may follow lines of trees right through the heart of the marsh region, while still others follow the immediate lake shore itself. Therefore, even on good days, the migrating raptors may be spread out somewhat in the areas where marshes line the lake shore (Magee, Ottawa, Metzger, Mallard Club, Cedar Point NWR). To the west of there, where the marshes are less extensive and the end of the lake may be in sight for a flying bird, the raptors may be more concentrated in a narrow band near the shore. If anyone was counting at Maumee Bay State Park today, I expect their hawk totals will have been higher, but I haven't heard reports yet.

In other area news, the Black-necked Stilt on Benton-Carroll Road just south of State Route 2 was there again today.  Sherrie Duris reported a Cattle Egret and a flock of American Golden-Plovers along the entrance road to Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area.  

Again, Mark Shieldcastle and I have both independently suggested that this Tuesday or Wednesday, April 26 or 27, may produce a major arrival of migrants. But for those who want to brave the weather and get out before then, there are already good numbers of birds in the general area.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. I am following your blog closely so that I can plan to come to magee. I was wondering, tue-wed are for major arrival for what types of birds? I mean, is it a big day for warblers? or big warbler migration is still due in May fist week? Thanks Sandip

Kenn Kaufman said...

Thanks for the note - see latest update, suggesting that Tuesday might not pan out, Wednesday is looking more likely. The really big movements of warblers happen mostly in May; if we get a big wave this week it will include a lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a scattering of others, but not the major variety of warblers that we'll see in May.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kenn

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