It’s Time Again… Catch the Shorebird Migration!

by Rosemary w/ MassAudubon

The end of summer brings a new kind of beachgoer: waves of shorebirds that stop by Massachusetts (and other Northeastern states) beaches as they migrate south for the winter. This spectacle began in early July, and though we’re nearing the end of its peak (mid-August), it will continue through mid-November.

Migratory shorebirds can appear on practically any tidal wetland. Away from the coast, any muddy pond or lake shore will also often host small numbers of shorebirds during migration. While many shorebirds spend time in Massachusetts/the NE, here are five that you may see right about now…

(read more: MassAudubon)

photos: Vitalii Khustochka/Flickr; albertovo/flickr; Jerry Fishbein; and Justin Lawson/Flickr bumpylemon

Audubon Alaska
If you’re out in the wildlife refuges of Alaska, keep an eye out for shorebirds, such as this Semipalmated Plover. Shorebirds that nest in the Arctic Refuge are already starting their journey south! Females tend to depart first, then males, followed by juveniles from 2-4 weeks after the adults. Amazingly, the young birds undertake their first migration without adult supervision.
photo by Donna Dewhust/USFWS

If you’re out in the wildlife refuges of Alaska, keep an eye out for shorebirds, such as this Semipalmated Plover. Shorebirds that nest in the Arctic Refuge are already starting their journey south! Females tend to depart first, then males, followed by juveniles from 2-4 weeks after the adults. Amazingly, the young birds undertake their first migration without adult supervision.

photo by Donna Dewhust/USFWS

Houston Audubon Beak of the Week:Purple Martin (Progne subis) Family: (Hirundinidae) Swallows and Martins The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow. Adult males are purplish-black and darker on the wings and tail. Females and immatures have dusky throats, light bellies, and dull purplish-black upperparts.  Purple Martins fly rapidly with a mix of flapping and gliding. They are aerial insectivores feeding only on flying insects, which they catch in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, bees, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers and cicadas. Peak numbers for Purple Martins occur in July and August when Purple Martins form large flocks and roost together in great numbers in preparation to migration. Some roosts may have thousands of birds. When the birds arrive to roost in the evening, it can be an amazing spectacle with the sky literally black with martins! …
(read more: Houston Audubon)Picture of young male by Greg Lavaty

Houston Audubon Beak of the Week:

Purple Martin (
Progne subis)

Family: (Hirundinidae) Swallows and Martins

The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow. Adult males are purplish-black and darker on the wings and tail. Females and immatures have dusky throats, light bellies, and dull purplish-black upperparts.

Purple Martins fly rapidly with a mix of flapping and gliding. They are aerial insectivores feeding only on flying insects, which they catch in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, bees, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers and cicadas.

Peak numbers for Purple Martins occur in July and August when Purple Martins form large flocks and roost together in great numbers in preparation to migration. Some roosts may have thousands of birds. When the birds arrive to roost in the evening, it can be an amazing spectacle with the sky literally black with martins! …

(read more: Houston Audubon)

Picture of young male by Greg Lavaty

A male Myrtle Warbler (Setophaga coronata coronata) in breeding plumage, photographed in the Léon-Provancher Ecological Reserve, Québec, Canada. This form, found in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, is considered conspecific with the Audubon’s warbler, which is found further west. The myrtle warbler can be distinguished from the Audubon’s by its whitish eyestripe, white (not yellow) throat, and contrasting cheek patch.
 Photograph: Simon Pierre Barrette
(via: Wikipedia)

A male Myrtle Warbler (Setophaga coronata coronata) in breeding plumage, photographed in the Léon-Provancher Ecological Reserve, Québec, Canada. This form, found in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, is considered conspecific with the Audubon’s warbler, which is found further west. The myrtle warbler can be distinguished from the Audubon’s by its whitish eyestripe, white (not yellow) throat, and contrasting cheek patch.

Photograph: Simon Pierre Barrette

(via: Wikipedia)

Sandhill Cranes in Florida
The sandhill crane is an elegant and mighty bird. It has a crippling cry that can be heard up to 2.5 miles away. They call to each other while on the ground as well as in flight. Many times you hear them before you see them. 
These majestic heron-like, gray-bodied birds with the crimson patch of skin on top of their head breed in open wetlands, fields, and prairies across North America. 
In Florida, the year-round resident population numbers around 4,000 to 5,000. It breeds here and doesn’t migrate. Every November and December, 25,000 migratory greater sandhill cranes ̶ the larger of the two subspecies ̶ join the resident population, staying here until March and April. 
Orlando Wetlands Park is just one of many GFBWT sites where you can enjoy this elegant bird over the summer. Photo by MyFWC - GBFT
(via: My Florida Wildlife Commission)

Sandhill Cranes in Florida

The sandhill crane is an elegant and mighty bird. It has a crippling cry that can be heard up to 2.5 miles away. They call to each other while on the ground as well as in flight. Many times you hear them before you see them.

These majestic heron-like, gray-bodied birds with the crimson patch of skin on top of their head breed in open wetlands, fields, and prairies across North America.

In Florida, the year-round resident population numbers around 4,000 to 5,000. It breeds here and doesn’t migrate. Every November and December, 25,000 migratory greater sandhill cranes ̶ the larger of the two subspecies ̶ join the resident population, staying here until March and April.

Orlando Wetlands Park is just one of many GFBWT sites where you can enjoy this elegant bird over the summer.

Photo by MyFWC - GBFT

(via: My Florida Wildlife Commission)

How will North American birds survive in the face of climate change? 
“When we think of climate change, we automatically think warmer temperatures,” says one Oregon State University scientist studying the issue. 
"But our analysis found that for many species, it is precipitation that most affects the long-term survival of many bird species."Photo: A female broad-tailed hummingbird visits larkspur flowers. Credit: David W. Inouye, University of Maryland

How will North American birds survive in the face of climate change?

“When we think of climate change, we automatically think warmer temperatures,” says one Oregon State University scientist studying the issue.

"But our analysis found that for many species, it is precipitation that most affects the long-term survival of many bird species."

Photo: A female broad-tailed hummingbird visits larkspur flowers. Credit: David W. Inouye, University of Maryland

'Our Birds': Migratory Journeys Converge In Baltimore Gardens

Central American immigrants in Baltimore, MD are helping migratory song birds that make the seasonal journey from their old home countries to the city they now call home.

by Ricardo Sandoval-Palos and Lauren Migaki

A couple of times a month, a group of migrant women and their children gather to plant shrubs and flowers in Baltimore’s expansive Patterson Park.

The gardens feed and shelter migratory birds as part of the Patterson Park Audubon Center’s Bird Ambassadors program.

Neotropical birds like the black-throated blue warbler and the Baltimore oriole migrate from the East Coast down to places like Mexico and Central America for the winter, says Susie Creamer, director of urban education and conservation at the center…

(read more and listen: NPR.org)

photos by Susie Creamer/Patterson Park Audubon Center & USFWS-NE Region

1000s of Purple Martins in Summer Staging Flock

Thank you to the Houston Audubon for sharing this great photo of a flock of Purple Martins near the Old Navy store near Fountain Lake Circle here in Houston, Texas. Purple Martins are a native insect eating bird that people can help provide homes for with Purple Martin Nesting boxes.

In mid-summer to early fall, they stage in large numbers in the Southern United States, after finishing breeding and raising young, as a prelude to migration to South America.

(via: Texas Parks and Wildlife - Houston Urban Wildlife)

A male semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) is recorded as flying over 10,000 miles in the past year! This tiny bird also made a remarkable six-day, 3,300-mile nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean from James Bay to South America, before moving on to his wintering area in Brazil… 
(read more)
photo: Bill Thompson, USFWS
(via: USFWS Southeast Region)

A male semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) is recorded as flying over 10,000 miles in the past year! This tiny bird also made a remarkable six-day, 3,300-mile nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean from James Bay to South America, before moving on to his wintering area in Brazil…

(read more)

photo: Bill Thompson, USFWS

(via: USFWS Southeast Region)

Albatross Internet Darling Takes First Flight

The world watches as a Laysan albatross chick grows up and takes to the sky.

by Katie Langin

On Tuesday a young Laysan albatross named Kaloakulua took to the skies on her maiden flight, plunging off a cliff 250 feet high (76 meters) and setting course for the open ocean. She won’t touch down on land again for another three years.

And so ends the first chapter of the first ever live-streaming wildlife camera aimed at an albatross nest.

The camera was installed on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i on January 27—the day Kaloakulua emerged from her egg—by biologists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Since then, volunteers from the Kaua’i Albatross Network have manned the controls, panning and zooming the high-definition camera to capture the comings and goings of albatross at the nest site…

(read more: National Geographic)

photos by Bob Osterlund

The Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) is a large diving duck which breeds in the lowland marshes and lakes of southern Europe and Central Asia and winters in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. This specimen was photographed in the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. These gregarious birds are classified least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Photo: David Iliff                                                                   via: Wikipedia

The Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) is a large diving duck which breeds in the lowland marshes and lakes of southern Europe and Central Asia and winters in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. This specimen was photographed in the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. These gregarious birds are classified least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Photo: David Iliff                                                                   via: Wikipedia