Please consider all the images to be copyrighted and ask permission before using them in any way. Thank you. DEClapp
Migration occurs pretty much everywhere in the world. Wildebeest and zebra move to find fresh grass as they follow the East African rains. As the glaciers receded from the northern hemisphere a few thousand years ago, birds began to fly north to breed and then south to their lands of origin. Fish used the newly open rivers and streams for spawning; and bear, mink, and a dozen other mammals followed them. Forests appeared and birds flooded them; eating the insects that were part of the developing system. Everything changes, nature is not static. There is no balance of nature.
Migrations can be stunningly long like the thousands of miles traveled by the Arctic Tern or the Sooty Shearwater – or the similar distances undertaken by many other sea birds. Tuna, Blue fish, Striped Bass, sea turtles, whales, and even jellyfish all migrate. Migration can be seemingly inappropriate as with the tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird flying hundreds of miles non-stop across the Caribbean. This bird is so small, and so light, that you could mail 7, 8 or 9 of them with a single one ounce stamp. Now I think the United States Postal Service does a great job – but still they choose to fly. The birds I am going to show below all have different stories and all have unique behaviors and patterns. They are barely representative as each creature has its own story.
The late summer and early fall is migration bonanza time. The sandpipers and plovers and other waders have headed south already; with the adults dropping southward in July and August with the breeding season over and their homeland calling. The shorebirds that hatched this year are undertaking their first migration now – August and September and into October. Land birds stay around and feed their young and as the young learn to fly and feed themselves the adults put on weight and the whole gang migrates pretty much at the same time. They are not together really, families drift apart in the nighttime air or on the expansive feeding grounds. Age groups seem to develop loose partnerships. Adults keep out of trouble following rivers and mountains chains, perhaps remembering the wrong turns of their earlier trip. The youngsters wander a bit more and often end up too far east or west or north or south of the intended target. That is what makes fall birding so much fun.
Here in New England we look for central US nesting birds that come our way or birds that migrate quickly north in the spring and are rarely seen, but seem to dawdle on the southward journey. We look for Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-breasted Chats, Indigo Buntings, Lincoln’s Sparrows, and Dickcissels. There may be Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal and those sea birds that get blown ashore (or near shore at least) by the tropical storms that Africa feeds into the Atlantic this time of year. Then later we will see the signs of winter as the sea ducks begin to arrive.
The featured bird at the top of this blog page is a House Wren; common in much of our region but not so common out here on Cape Cod. It will build a nest of twigs and will maraud nesting boxes and take them over (and evict) Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. We also have the Carolina Wren around here and there are maybe seven other wrens widely represented throughout the US. (Just a test for me as I write: the other wrens are….Pacific , Cactus, Canyon, Rock, Marsh, Bewick’s, Sedge, and Winter – oops that’s eight more).
So, there is a quick review of the past week or so. I know I have a couple more posts from the Falklands to do and a whole bunch of African herbivores – but I am sure that there will be a few interruptions and some good stuff to pass along. For instance I had several Garter Snakes this week and the last summer days still draw out the Painted Turtles. We still have lots of dragonflies around though many have already migrated away – yes many dragonflies migrate .
Thanks – enjoy our natural world (and work to protect it) …. it is under great pressure!