Lake Michigan Neotropical Madness!

May 8 was the little longshore flight that could.  Under steamy conditions and a strong south gale, passerines streamed out of areas to our south in search of bug infested zones to raise their young.  May 8 was also the longshore flight that just came short of some record breaking counts.  To come second or fourth place is still impressive.  It also becomes a nice contrast.  Today was not too different than yesterday, but the birds were again diverse and different.

Steamy counters, May 8, 2014.

By dawn, it became obvious that a massive Blue Jay movement of near count was underway.  blue Jays would cloud the sky, going west to east.  Unlike yesterday, warblers were only an occasional chip note overhead.  In place of warblers were buzzy zip notes of Indigo Buntings.  Orioles gave full song as they flew past an occasionally land on a nearby cottonwood tree.  Again and again, orioles would fly by to the thought, “oh, just another oriole…”

First of the season birds included Golden-winged Warbler (first at the site in many years), American Redstart, Yellow-throated Warbler (first in many years, a rare tower bird), Blue Grosbeak, and a great record of Red Crossbill.

But, back to the high counts.  Today’s 7,058 jays makes a new second state record for highest single party count.  Last year, the record was broken with 7,264 on May 1.  So close!  Orioles came in at 243.  The record for the tower is 464, so today’s count, while impressive sits in the top 5 high counts.  Today’s Indigo Bunting count likely also will score in the top 10 when all is analyzed.

Updated Record Results from Ken Brock:
Blue Jay 7058 Indiana’s 2nd largest daily count
Baltimore Oriole 243 Indiana’s 6th largest count
American Goldfinch 960 Indiana’s 20th largest count
Eastern Kingbird 158  Indiana’s 9th largest count

Baltimore Oriole stopping for a brief second for a few songs before migrating past.
Baltimore Oriole stopping for a brief second for a few songs before migrating past.

Appreciable numbers of bird counters in the early hours helped with the morning flurry of longshore migrants. Randy Pals counted Blue Jays, while John Cassady twitched for goodies. Brad Bumgardner, Ken Brock, John Kendall and Lynea Hinchman all did a stint atop the platform. And Hal Cohen, the San Diego county Swainson’s Hawk counter, came out from Chicago.  The day ended with 82 species, making up nearly 10,000 birds (9,328).  This is the highest count since mid-April!

White-winged Scoter  1    
Common Loon  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Bald Eagle  1
Lesser Yellowlegs  3
Least Sandpiper  13
Forster’s Tern  13
Chimney Swift  165
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  5
Red-headed Woodpecker  11
Eastern Kingbird  158  
Blue Jay  7058
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  18
Cedar Waxwing  87
Golden-winged Warbler  1
Palm Warbler  18
Yellow-rumped Warbler  19
Yellow-throated Warbler  1
Lark Sparrow  1
Summer Tanager  3
Scarlet Tanager  14
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  19
Blue Grosbeak  1
Indigo Bunting  69  
Dickcissel  1
Bobolink  15
Orchard Oriole  12
Baltimore Oriole  243
Red Crossbill  1
American Goldfinch  960



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