Hey wait a minute! Doesn’t migration take place in spring and fall? Well, yes…and no. Migration actually takes place year round as there are birds on the move to and from their breeding grounds at all times of year. Just like all birds don’t nest at the same time, not all birds migrate at the same time either. Right now, there are a number of shorebirds taking off for their southern wintering grounds. You can see numbers of birds like Sanderlings, Red knots and Semi-palmated plovers gathering at the shore now to migrate. While they wont leave
for some time, their numbers will increase steadily until there are huge rafts of them on the beaches long after human sunworshippers have gone for the season. Other shorebirds that start leaving now include Upland Sandpipers and endangered Piping plovers whose chicks, born in June, are on their own to make their first migration to the Gulf Coast states and the Bahamas.
But its not just shorebirds that take off in the summer. Depending on when they arrived on their breeding grounds, many Purple martins are starting back now. Check your Purple martin houses, if you have been lucky enough to have martins choose them, to see what’s going on. Huge flocks of American tree swallows are also starting their long distance migration to Central America and can be seen flocking together – often on driftwood on beaches.
And songbirds like Baltimore orioles, Rose-breasted grosbeaks, Wood thrushes and American redstarts are starting to make their way south now to Florida through Central America. Many warblers like Black and white and Yellow warblers also start their migration in early August ahead of the stream of migrating warblers that draw huge crowds of birdwatchers to see them in September.
Watch to see the change in visitors to your feeders as migration continues, as it’s often a good indicator of which birds are passing through your area at the time. And look in the trees and shrubs around the feeders. This is where you will see warblers as they take insects to bulk up for the long trip south. Anywhere you live, take some quiet time outside to look and listen for signs of birds migrating through. This time of year you are sure to find a visitor or two in your area on their way to warmer weather and food for the winter.