Migration Returns!

After a nearly two week hiatus, migration returned in style today.  It’s only fitting that this occurs today, as we write our 200th blog post since we began documenting the longshore morning bird flight over 3 seasons ago.  With warm south winds, conditions were ripe for the first waves to enter the dunes.  Conditions were also ideal for thirsty birders, parched from the dry spell we’ve been facing.  A full contingent tested the space limits on the longshore tower today.

Birders stack up on the longshore tower, May 2, 2015.
Birders stack up on the longshore tower, May 2, 2015.

Before midnight, light north winds gradually shifted east, then southerly allowing for what we hope is a teaser of a couple more powerful flights of birds.  If the bird represents a major baseball team, likely we saw multiples of them!  Bluejays… yup, over 1,000.  Orioles… yup, 30 to be exact.  Loons… ok, yep, we had a few of them too!  It was a morning with annuals galore, as we jumped to a daily total of 4,631 birds, represented by 90 species.

New for the scene this year were American Golden Plover, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireos, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Orchard Oriole.

Bluejays staged their first big push with 1,311 birds.  Over 1/4 of all birds today were Bluejays!  Goldfinches also put in a good movement with over 500 seen.  Gnatcatchers were not far behind  The 72 seen sits comfortably in the state’s top 10 count.  A few banding nets were also strung today, hoping to catch a few of these birds.  They’ll be up through the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival, and today had a nice pair of Brown Thrashers that a few folks got to see up close.

Brown Thrashers banded from the tower site today.  May 2, 2015.
Brown Thrashers banded from the tower site today. May 2, 2015.

With the most recent north winds, it’s not surprising that we have a few late migrants too.  Most notably some lingering juncos and tree sparrows.  Black-backed Gulls in May are also getting quite late.

Another good day looks in store for Sunday.  Until then, here’s a partial list of the main highlights from today.

Greater Scaup 1 
Red-throated Loon 6
Common Loon 4
American White Pelican 5
American Golden-Plover 10 FOY. Looking to land on the beach.
Great Black-backed Gull 2
Caspian Tern 9
Chimney Swift 158
Eastern Kingbird 7 FOY.
Yellow-throated Vireo 1 FOY.
Warbling Vireo 3 FOY.
Blue Jay 1311
Purple Martin 2
Cliff Swallow 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 72
American Pipit 10
Nashville Warbler 1 FOY.
Northern Parula 1 FOY.
Yellow Warbler 19 FOY.
Palm Warbler 4
Pine Warbler 9
Yellow-rumped Warbler 87
Black-throated Green Warbler 1 FOY.
American Tree Sparrow 1 
Chipping Sparrow 133
Vesper Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 15
White-throated Sparrow 3
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3 FOY.
Indigo Bunting 8 FOY.
Rusty Blackbird 1
Orchard Oriole 3 FOY.
Baltimore Oriole 30
Purple Finch 3
Pine Siskin 30
American Goldfinch 587

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