Fall Migration is Heating Up This Month!

Baltimore Oriole watermark Sandy Bak 202004September is the month when fall migration in northeast Florida really intensifies, with some species leaving our area after spending their summer breeding season here (Black-necked Stilt, Least Tern, Mississippi Kite, Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler), some species just beginning to arrive to spend the winter with us (Dunlin, Northern Harrier, Eastern Phoebe, Baltimore Oriole, Palm Warbler), and some just passing through on their way to their wintering grounds further south (Swainson's Thrush, Bobolink, Ovenbird, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak).

Cape May Warbler watermark CBW 20190917 7DC 6947This is by no means a complete list; just some examples of birds likely to be moving out of, into, or through our area this month.

Keep in mind, some warbler species look quite a bit different during their fall migration compared to how they look in the springtime. Male Cape May Warblers, for example, sport brilliant colors in spring as they are preparing to attract females during breeding season. But they almost look like a completely different bird in the fall, as their deep rusty-colored cheek patches and intense dark striping on the body fade to a dull grayish-brown (right).

A great way to see what birds can be expected in our area throughout the year is eBird's Bar Chart feature. Using many thousands of bird sightings contributed over the years, this incredibly useful feature is essentially a frequency chart that can help you figure out how likely various species are in a certain area at a specific time of year. We use it all the time!

--Carol Bailey-White, President, September 2020