[Tweeters] Migrating Birds Tonight -- What Might They Be?

Jim Danzenbaker jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 05:37:48 PDT 2015


Frank and Joshua and Tweeters,

Yes, the Swainson's Thrushes were/are flowing over nicely last night and
this morning (as I type) over my Battle Ground, Clark County yard. Look
for them to peak at around 6-6:20am or so when hundreds of "urps" can be
heard on a good night/morning. There are some non-thrush chips thrown in
for good measure. From past experience, I'm guessing Black-throated Gray
Warblers and one Yellow Warbler. I've heard Swainson's Thrushes (a
trickle) every night for the last ten nights or so (when I'm home) but have
failed to post to tweeters.

Keep your eyes and ears skyward!

Jim
Jim Danzenbaker
Battle Ground, Clark County, WA


On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 10:21 PM, Joshua Glant <josh.n.glant at gmail.com>
wrote:


> Good evening Mr. Brown,

>

> Yes, I have been hearing the same calls over my Mercer Island yard since

> mid-August! The most common call by far, at least in my experience, has

> been the spring-peeper-like call of the Swainson's Thrush. Also heard have

> been lower buzzy chips that come from either warblers or sparrows, high

> chips that are definitely from warblers, and perhaps a Chipping Sparrow

> call or two (I've heard that they're distinctive, and I'm pretty sure I

> heard one on my first night of listening.)

>

> But songbirds aren't the only voices in the sky: two nights in a row, I

> have been surprised to hear solitary shorebirds over my house! In fact, I

> even called the second one a Solitary Sandpiper, but then realized that the

> call I heard was perfectly intermediate between Solitary and Spotted, the

> more expected species to hear at night in Seattle. So I'm calling it a

> probable Spotted. At least I'm certain that the first one was a Spotted!

>

> By the way, did you know that you can view birds migrating on radar? It's

> true! Base reflectivity radar is made to scan the atmosphere for particles

> of moisture or, in some cases when necessary, dust, but it is more than

> capable of detecting the feathered river in the nocturnal sky. On the

> radar, weather usually appears as bands of green, yellow and red, but the

> birds always appear as great blobs, most often blue, that are centered over

> radar stations (you can rest assured that there are also birds in the

> spaces between stations!).

>

> Here is a site for observing the Northwest's nocturnal migrants:

>

> http://tempest.aos.wisc.edu/radar/nw3comphtml5.html

>

> And for the entire U.S. (you'll notice in this one that the East lights up

> magnitudes more than the West; one of the perks of living east of the

> Rockies, I guess):

>

> http://tempest.aos.wisc.edu/radar/us3comphtml5.html

>

> And here is an archive of nationwide radar for most nights (except for

> those during server crashes), spanning all the way back to 2008:

>

> https://people.mbi.ohio-state.edu/hurtado.10/US_Composite_Radar/

>

> Finally, I must draw your attention to one of my favorite paintings of all

> time: Mystery of the Missing Migrants, by Charley Harper. Though I usually

> don't go for modernistic, angular artwork of this type, the late and great

> wildlife artist Charley Harper used the style so well in his depictions of

> Marie's creatures and scenery of all kinds, especially birds. In this

> painting, a very diverse and colorful variety of birds migrate over the

> treetops, through a starry sky and under the light of a crescent moon.

> Though some species aren't quite accurate (since when do Broad-winged Hawks

> and Swallow-tailed Kites migrate at night, when there are no kettles), it's

> a fun, whimsical depiction of a phenomenon that goes on every night above

> our heads in spring and fall, faintly heard but richly experienced. Can you

> identify all the species?

>

> http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/features0801/mysteryMigrants.html

>

> Good birding, Joshua Glant

>

> Mercer Island, WA

>

> Josh.n.glant at gmail.com

>

> P.S. Someone told me recently that nocturnal listening is wonderful on

> overcast nights, when the birds are forced to fly at lower elevations in

> the sky, even closer to listening ears. Of course, one problem with that is

> that most overcast nights in Seattle also come with wind, which very easily

> obstructs the faint calls from the heavens! I can't wait to find a

> windless, overcast night to try it, but for now, clear nights have done me

> well. And if you're lucky, you might spot a shooting star among the

> pearl-studded constellations, as I have! Watching for Perseid meteors was,

> indeed, what accidentally introduced me to the world I had so long wanted

> to enter, that of nocturnal migrants and their calls. A fun world to

> explore, for sure!

>

> On Sep 2, 2015, at 9:49 PM, FRANK BROWN <franklauriebrown at msn.com> wrote:

>

> The sky is filled tonight over Bitter Lake and Broadview with calling

> migrating birds. I've never heard anything like this before in Seattle.

> Has anyone else heard them, and does anyone have a guess at what they might

> be?

>

> Frank Brown

> North Seattle

> North Park-Bitter Lake neighborhood

>

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--
Jim Danzenbaker
Battle Ground, WA
360-702-9395
jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
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