Five birds to look for in July and August
Published: June 22, 2012
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Photo by MiaM
Both Short- and Long-billed Dowitchers move south across North America in good numbers in July and August. Note that two age classes are present in mid-summer: Adults are worn and molting into winter plumage, while juveniles are more crisply patterned and show little sign of molt. Adults can be a real ID challenge; luckily, juveniles are easier. Short-billed is much more colorful overall and has intricate markings inside the tertials. Look for dowitchers on mudflats, primarily in coastal regions. At most inland locations, Long-billeds greatly outnumber Short-billeds.See eBird's current distribution map for Short-billed Dowitcher.
See eBird's current distribution map for Long-billed Dowitcher.Photo by MiaM
Satellites reveal jaegers’ path
Jaeger sightings from shore or on land typically set birding listservs and social networks abuzz. The bulk of the birds’ movements, however, go unnoticed because they occur far out at sea.
Long-tailed Jaeger breeds across the northern arctic from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland to Scandinavia and Russia. Its known wintering areas are in the southern Atlantic off Argentina, off the coast of South Africa, near the east coast of Africa, and off southwestern South America. Other areas where the jaeger may winter haven’t been documented well.
The birds’ migration routes are largely unknown, but scientists from Europe who attached satellite transmitters to four jaegers breeding in eastern Greenland in 2006 and 2007 offer new insights.
The birds left their nesting areas between mid-July and mid-August and first flew southwest toward a 190,000-square-mile staging area off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
The area is a known feeding area for seabirds, and it probably allows the jaegers to restore fat reserves after the demanding breeding season before heading through the low productive tropical waters off northwest Africa, the researchers write in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Ornithology.
The birds stayed put for 8-20 days, then flew southeast toward Africa. The signals were lost before they reached the wintering range, but the scientists learned that they usually traveled 60-250 miles per day but could go as fast as 500-560 miles per day.
eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab
of Ornithology and Audubon. Marshall Iliff, Brian Sullivan, and Chris
Wood are eBird project leaders. Submit your bird sightings at ebird.org.