Returnees showing up

Posted July 13th, 2009 by kcorliss. Comment (0).

It truly is amazing just how quickly some nesting species get to their business then start heading back south. It’s only mid-July and thoughts of school starting again are still a long way off. Heck, the Red River Valley Fair is still going on along with Fargo’s street fair this week.

(Baird’s sandpiper)

But two events happened recently which reminded me of how fast this cycle-of-life thing really plays out. First, about 10 days ago I began to notice larger flocks of "black" birds some over 100 already. The flocks consisted of common grackles, European starlings, red-winged blackbirds and probably Brewer’s blackbirds and brown-headed cowbirds as well. It was just last month when these birds were fledging young. Now they have begun the process of grouping up. The flocks will grow ever larger as the weeks and months progress until groups in the many thousands and even millions will be seen.

Then this past weekend there was an influx of some Arctic nesters as I noted 12 shorebird species present at the lagoons in Fargo and West Fargo. The same is happening in the Bismarck area and presumably all over the northern plains. More are on the way but the returnees are starting to reappear. We use the term "fall migration," but it’s more of a convenient phrase than one which reflects reality.

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