Mid-summer birding keeps us all busy

Mid-summer birding keeps us all busy

A flurry of special birds kept Northern Indiana birders busy recently. The Michigan City, Indiana harbor and break wall have traditionally been excellent places to see a variety of rare birds. Last week a very rare royal tern was discovered at Michigan City. Evidently, it didn’t stay around very long, but birders looking for the tern found several whimbrels and at least one marbled godwit. There also were up to four piping plovers seen at the Michigan City beaches.

Locally here in Goshen, Indiana, most birders have taken down their bird feeders for now. We are still seeing a few birds in the yard including hummingbirds that seem to be enjoying the summer flowers. I have not heard anything new this week, but recommendations are still to stop feeding birds including hummingbirds and also take down bird baths.

I was fascinated by a report this week of a fork-tailed flycatcher in Eastern Canada. The distinctive long-tailed flycatcher from Mexico or Central America was found on July 19 by a 10-year-old boy, Yannick Dupuis, in Westmorland, New Brunswick. The bird was catching insects in the back yard. The bird also was seen by his mother, Caroline, and his brothers. The family put out the word and held an open house for birders to come and enjoy the rare visitor that had likely been blown north by the recent tropical storm.

The fork-tailed flycatcher was either a young bird or an adult female. It often perched on tomato cages and a nest box, flying out to catch insects.

Fork-tailed flycatchers breed in Southern Mexico, Central America and South America. These flycatchers are known to wander widely, and there are numerous records from the United States, especially along the eastern seaboard. Some also move south during the southern hemisphere breeding season. When we lived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from 1982-86, we saw lots of them in the southern summer.

During migration fork-tails are often found with eastern kingbirds, which nest in North America but winter in South America. Every night during the northern winter, our parks in Santa Cruz, Bolivia would fill with thousands of eastern kingbirds. It gave me a new understanding of what is really home to a bird such as the eastern kingbird. Eastern kingbirds fly to Northern America for a few months to raise their young in the northern summer. Most of the year they spend in their southern home, making them South American birds who merely take advantage of the abundant insects in the brief northern summer.

On the other hand, the northern populations of fork-tailed flycatchers live in Mexico, Central America and Northern South American, nesting during the northern summer. However, the southern population of fork-tails migrate south to Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia to nest from December to February. It’s all very interesting.

Good birding!

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

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