Today marked a milestone as we surpassed the 100,000th identified bird of the season. Last year we surpassed 100,000 birds on March 14. So, we are very much behind and looking to catch up. So are the birds. Early morning still is allowing large flocks of birds to attempt a migration before the north winds pick up. Under north winds, we have had 39,000 Red-winged Blackbirds fly over the old green tower site in the past two days, despite there being no southerly winds to assist their migration. Two similar north wind days last year during the same period only resulted in 3,000 Red-wings.
Also fighting a north wind were the first major flocks of Sandhill Cranes. The season’s largest flight of 3,370 birds flew through the dunes today. Many birds were merely specks on the far southern horizon. Again, cranes entering the dunes area feel the sinking, cooler air from the lake and turn early to get around it, rather than hugging the nearshore.
Three new species were added to the season count. The first American Pipits sailed over the high dune, as well as the first croaking sound of a lakeshore Caspian Tern. Not observed or heard last year, two Great-horned Owls were heard dueting at the Green Tower site this morning. 86 species have now been logged this month since the count began.
Other highlights under this north wind count included: 56 Greater White-fronted Geese, 111 Red-throated Loons, 8 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1,100 robins, 46 Eastern Meadowlarks, and a healthy 41 Common Redpolls.
Yesterday brought predictions of a great flight Saturday. We’re adding tomorrow (Friday) to this, as very light and variable winds may bring overpowering migration early tomorrow. 30,000 birds in a single day may be very possible both Friday and Saturday as warm air spills into the region.