A great start to the fall migration monitoring!

As per tradition, fall starts on August 15 at Cabot Head when a new season of monitoring begins. For the next 78 days, we will rise before dawn to open the mist nets, with our eyes and ears open to any sign of birds, checking the nets every 30 minutes for 6 hours (weather permitting), banding every bird captured. We will witness the slow moving of seasons and the procession of migrant birds.

For now, it is still very much summer, with a strong sun and warm temperatures. But birds are already a-moving! The loud call of a Greater Yellowlegs on August 16th was a clear sign that migration is already under way for many species. These first four days have been quite productive for banding, with an overall total of 170 birds banded already. Many of the birds are of course local ones, notably American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo (mostly young being captured, with their characteristic brown eyes). But boreal birds have also been present in our nets: Cape May, Bay-breasted, and Tennessee Warblers are on the move. We’ve actually already detected 16 species of warblers, their numbers inflated by all the young born this summer.

It is a time of youth. On the morning of the 17th, four young Bald Eagles were soaring together, joined by a young Peregrine Falcon. Other raptors seen these last few days include the first small “kettles” of Broad-winged Hawks, the occasional Osprey, one or two Red-shouldered Hawk as well as the ubiquitous Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures. 

A little burst of flycatchers was notable on the 18th, with 3 Yellow-bellied and one Least Flycatchers captured. The former has one of the shortest stays in the summer breeding grounds among songbirds, arriving in June and leaving in August. On that day, we were surprised and delighted to catch a young female Belted Kingfisher! It is certainly unusual but over the years, a total of 18 kingfishers in 12 fall seasons have been banded, all of them hatch-year birds.