Fall birding has finally arrived

Fall birding has finally arrived

After another week of 90 F heat and humidity, the weather turned cooler as August ended. Here in Northern Indiana, the nights are finally getting cooler, and the daytime highs are in the high 70s and low 80s. It’s a good time to do some early fall birding.

Reports of warblers are picking up, although so far there have only been scattered sightings of small numbers of the “confusing fall warblers,” as Roger Tory Peterson called them in his early field guides. It’s true identifying fall warblers that are not singing and often are hard to see among the still fully leafed-out trees can be a challenge. Some birders don’t bother trying to separate some of the similar-plumaged fall warblers, but others enjoy the challenge.

Area birding hotlines and Facebook pages continue to be dominated by shorebird sightings. Many of these reports are still coming from Wilderness Road, located in the Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area, southwest of Wooster in Wayne County. This has been one of the best places in Ohio to find shorebirds over the years. We are fortunate to have such a location, a place where birders never know what rarity might show up next. I’m not sure if there is a list of the birds that have been found at Funk Bottoms over the years. This sounds like a project for someone to work on.

Recent birds found along Wilderness Road include at least six Baird’s sandpipers, both Wilson’s and red-necked phalaropes, short-billed dowitcher, stilt sandpiper, American golden-plover, and the more common shorebirds passing through the area. Also present have been two little blue herons. At least one birder also found an olive-sided flycatcher along Wilderness Road.

Further afield, there have been reports of both wood stork and white ibis from Northwest Ohio, as well as continuing piping plovers. All of these birds are rare for Ohio.

Common nighthawks have been migrating through the area, but only in small numbers, at least from what I’ve seen and heard. I haven’t had any here at our place for the last week or so, and they nested close by and could be heard every evening from our yard. Swallows have been leaving, although we still have northern rough-winged swallows at the small lake near us. As many as 700 purple martins were still gathering on the high wires of the power lines several blocks from our place. Larger numbers have been seen at the usual fall gathering places in Northern Indiana.

The first Swainson’s thrushes have been heard calling as they passed overhead early in the morning. More thrushes and lots of other birds will come our way. It’s a good time of year to set up your spotting scope on evenings when there is a north wind and a full moon. The numbers of birds migrating at night is truly amazing.

Good birding.

Bruce Glick can be emailed at bglick2@gmail.com.

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