Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Thrushes Are Coming, The Thrushes Are Coming!

Returning home about 9:30 this evening I heard the characteristic and distinctive call notes of a bunch of Swainson's Thrushes migrating overhead. You can hear that distinctive call note at this link.

Swainson's Thrush has one of the most beautiful song's of any species nesting in North America. Their range includes much of the boreal forest of North America as shown in the map below. They winter primarily along the spine of the Andes in South America.

I suspect that the Swainson's Thrushes moving overhead right now are going to be along the south coast of Cuba by sunrise when they should pitch in for a few days rest. Some might make it to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands. This would be a good time to be in the islands to get that bird for your West Indies list.

This morning while looking out on my lanai I found another thrush, this one the Veery, that was migrating south. Its presence in my yard marked the 116th species I've seen in my backyard since moving here in late February.

As the range map shows, Veery is well distributed in eastern North America where its found abundantly in the nesting season in rich mesic forest as well as some spruce-fir forest. Recent data has shown that the winter range shown in this map is incorrect. More correctly the bird winters almost exclusively in a small area of west-central Brazil rather than widely across the continent as this map suggests.

Also this morning, while nerding around in the Brazilian pepper growing abundantly (and unfortunately) along the edge of my wetland, I found a brilliantly plumaged male Blackburnian Warbler.

Blackburnian Warbler is another species that nests in boreal forest of North America and spends its winter in more hospitable habitats in South America.

While bicycling this afternoon, as I trudged up Tuttle Road just south of venerable Ed Smith Stadium, late the home of the Sarasota Reds, I heard and then saw my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the winter. I was rather surprised to find one this early in the season.

Finally this evening on the beach at Turtle Beach on Siesta Key I was surprised to hear and then see a migrant American Golden-Plover.

I was surprised to find a Golden-Plover on the west coast because most of them are migrating (and this is the peak of their southbound migration period) far out over the Atlantic on a more southerly route from Labrador to Guyana. Regardless it was nice to see this bird I was able to learn about in Arctic Alaska many nesting seasons ago. And then there was the flock of 1200 Golden-Plovers I saw one day on the coast of Guyana in South America in 1991.

The birds I saw today are all to be expected in this part of Florida at this time of year. Hearing the Swainson's Thrushes was an added treat because I wonder if they are now at their peak? Regardless it was enjoyable having them overhead. I only wish at times that I was a Swainston's Thrush and could be in Cuba in the morning.