Traffic Jam of Birds

North winds returned to the dunes today.  The first of two cold fronts dropped in overnight, bringing gusting winds of 20 mph off of the lake.  By dawn, the waves were roaring, temperatures had dropped significantly from yesterday and fog could be seen building offshore.  There would be no longshore flight today.  An amazing difference after nearly 400 orioles yesterday.

As dreary as the day was, it was a birder’s paradise for those in the park.  the north winds stopped any migration and birds found themselves throughout the dunes seeking food in the colder temperatures.  Some areas of the lakeshore described scenes of warblers dripping from the trees.  In addition to warblers, thrushes, vireos, and sparrows were aplenty.  The roadside would flush of White-crowned Sparrows at every turn.  The seedpile we use at the longshore birding platform was loaded with seed eaters.  At one point, 9 species of sparrows were being seen, including a beautiful Clay-colored Sparrow that continued through the entire day and was still being seen after 5pm.  Down at the pavilion, a Merlin was patrolling the beach.

White-crowned Sparrow in the Dunes State Park.
White-crowned Sparrow in the Dunes State Park.

You could bird easily from the comfort of the Nature Center feeder area.  Birders found multiple warbler species right from the window.  Easy ones to see included Nashville, Black-and-white, and Magnolia Warbler.  Ovenbirds sounds came through the microphones.  Feeding at the feeders were over a dozen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, orioles, Gray Catbird, and a flashy Indigo Bunting.  A great variety in one spot.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female) at the Dunes State Park feeders.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female) at the Dunes State Park feeders.

It’s easy to strike up these conditions as poor birding weather, but during the right time, such as mid May, birding can be hot!  Tomorrow brings the Big May Day count, and we’re hopeful these birds will stick around overnight and provide for some great counts tomorrow.




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