[Tweeters] perception of spring migration

Andy McCormick andy_mcc at hotmail.com
Sat May 15 17:34:19 PDT 2021

Hello Tweeters,

This is an important conversation regarding the numbers of birds in this spring’s migration. Gary’s data are important and help provide a longer term basis for assessment. Michael’s long history at Marymoor Park will also provide some good perspective. The unevenness in the reporting with scarcity reported in some places and good numbers in others is another important factor to consider.
We are all aware of the hammering that neotropical migrants have been taking over the past few decades from habitat loss, insecticides killing their food sources, and a warming climate disrupting the previously more stable annual rhythm of life. The Cornell report of 3 billion birds, that is 1/3 of North American birds, lost in the past 30 years cautioned that this trend in the decline of birds is likely to continue. Similar declines are occurring in the Africa to Europe and Asia bird migrations.
With 1/3 fewer birds migrating we are less likely to see a widespread influx of birds, and the spotty and uneven clusters of migrating birds we are experiencing is a likely outcome of this population decline and a more likely scenario for our birding future, unless we turn around the ongoing decline of these beautiful birds.
Advocacy for birds is extremely important right now and we can all contribute to that effort and I encourage all of us to support an organization working for birds and legislation to support birds and their habitat needs. We have done it before with banning DDT and saving the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Brown Pelican. We can do it again for migrating birds.

Regards to all,

Andy McCormick
Bellevue, WA

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From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> on behalf of Gary Bletsch <garybletsch at yahoo.com>
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2021 7:55 AM
To: Tweeters Tweeters
Subject: [Tweeters] perception of spring migration

Dear Tweeters,

Thanks to one and all for the interesting reports of spring migrants. Although I do remember saying to some birding friends that migration seemed a bit thin or slow, it has not seemed markedly so. I just checked my records for the first twelve days of May, covering the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, Skagit County only. My birding effort was similar in these four years. Here is a summary from these data.

2018, 4418 birds of 132 species.

2019, 2948 birds of 121 species.

2020, 5434 birds of 144 species.

2021, 5809 birds of 129 species.

To me, these data show 2021 to be unremarkable. I can't help thinking that pandemic fatigue may be coloring everyone's perceptions of this year. I will say that there do seem to be slightly fewer neotropical migrants in my yard this spring. However, there are more Violet-green Swallows at my place than usual. In fact, they have taken over two of my birdhouses, one of which had been used previously by Tree Swallows, the other by House Sparrows.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch
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