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Here in the northeast of the US we have all sorts of weather; cold winters, hot summers, comfortable springs and autumns and (like everywhere else these days) surprising weather of all sorts. This summer has been mostly warm and wet in much of the region. Out here on Cape Cod we have has only a little bit of rain but 50 miles to the west they have been inundated. My rain gauge shows a few drops over one inch for the summer where many places to the west have between eight and ten inches. The summer rains are most often in bands of thunderstorms that come (generally) from the west or southwest. Our clearing weather is usually from the northwest. Much of that weather falls apart as it reaches the coast.
I mention the summer weather not only because it is getting weirder and weirder around the world but because it impacts our wildlife and especially the migratory birds. I will spend a bit of time looking at what our birds do in the early summer, through the breeding season, and into the fall. Our spring migration here is mostly in the month of May but birds are moving north both earlier and later. We also get some birds in June that are the young-of-the-year from Florida and other southern locations. Many of our neo-tropical migrants head northward into the Canadian boreal forest and many of our sandpiper-types head even further north to nest in the tundra regions of both Canada and Alaska. The same thing happens in Scandinavia and Russia. The southward migration is spread out as there are waves of birds heading “home”; first we get those birds whose nests have failed (as early as mid-July), then we get the successful adults heading south after breeding and now leaving precocious young behind (mostly August and September), and finally the birds of the year who now migrate southward on their own without experience or leadership (usually September and October).
We’ll take a look at some of these migrants over the next couple posts (and months) as they come and go from eastern Massachusetts. Long distance migrants are strong flyers with a penchant for flying. They can appear most anywhere. We see oddities every now and then, some of them from way down south and others that must have crossed the ocean. Each story is different and each species in not really homogenous in its planning and execution.