Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First southbound migrants have arrived

A birder near Baton Rouge just reported sixteen Least Sandpipers- the first migrants of the fall, down from Canada.  Perhaps to winter in Louisiana, perhaps passing through.

It may seem odd that some migrants are already appearing southbound here, when some of our local species are still on nests.  This is actually normal. The first fall migrants arrive each year around this time- sometimes even in late June- and the early arrivals are normally dominated by shorebirds (sandpipers and kin).  Most likely, there have been a handful of shorebirds here undetected for a week or two already.

What's more, it is probable that all of the sixteen Least Sandpipers were adults.  This is because adult shorebirds are the first to migrate south in the fall.  They actually leave their young in the muskeg or tundra, and let them fend for themselves on the way south later in the season.  This means that the young have to navigate to appropriate wintering grounds without any experienced guides, operating on inate orienting abilities.  The more one looks at migration, the more amazing it appears.

Good birding,


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