Spring migrant bird movement all but over

Spring migrant bird movement all but over

Here in Northern Indiana, we had a full week of hot days with south winds and no rain. The result was a huge, quick movement of millions of songbirds through Indiana and on north into Michigan and Canada.

As the birds passed through our area, there were several days when birders found a great variety of birds. Woodlots were full of birds one day and almost devoid of migrants the following day. This was to be expected because the cold weather and north winds the previous week kept migrant birds south of us, and when the warm south winds arrived, the birds took full advantage.

Still, there were some exciting times. On the best day, several of us were out for the morning. We only walked through two of the woodlots along the Elkhart River, close to where we live. In that short time, we found 23 different species of warblers, plus a nice assortment of thrushes, vireos and flycatchers.

Many of them were first sightings for the year. To the east of us at Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area, lots of birders were out on bikes and in cars. One group had a total of 30 warblers, which is amazing for this Northern Indiana location. Several days later reports of both mourning and Connecticut warblers began to show up. The hard-to-find golden-winged warbler seemed to be especially difficult to locate this spring.

By the end of the week, things had really slowed down. Gary and I checked out Pigeon River again and found most nesting birds including cerulean, hooded and blue-winged warblers, but we located only one migrant warbler, a blackburnian, singing high in the trees. Almost no cuckoos were reported last week, but I had a yellow-billed calling behind our home this morning (May 16).

We also drove out to the farmland east of Goshen and found a cooperative grasshopper sparrow but no dickcissels or bobolinks yet. A lone great egret at a farm pond was our only one for the spring.

We have learned in past years that we can find Carolina chickadees by driving about 35 miles south of Goshen, which we did today. As is the case in Ohio, the northern part of the state has only black-capped chickadees.

The Bobolink Area (Holmes, Wayne and surrounding counties) had a lot of good birds over the last week. Knox Lake reports included multiple American bitterns, lots of soras, Virginia rails, marsh wrens and trumpeter swans. Blue grosbeaks have been located, and a Bell’s vireo was found on May 14 on Messner Road near Prairie Lane, south of Wooster. Two king rails were reported nearby on Messner.

Atlee Yoder saw a flyover Mississippi kite in Wayne County, also on May 14. That’s a very good record. Evidently, Atlee was doing a walking big day, and the kite probably kept him going.

And finally, the local Bobolink Area team that has been doing state-wide big days for a number of years was at it again this May. They had another incredible day, with a total of 195 species, only four less than their 199 several years ago. What a day.

Good birding!

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

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