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FRED FIRST: Your County’s Birds – Overhead In The Dark

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The tree swallows’ false alarm this year came three weeks earlier than last year, with first sighting on March 1. But then, these early birds, after visiting a few of the ten available bird houses in the yard, moved on. I was disappointed, but we saw the same pattern last year.

My thought is that these north-moving birds are site-faithful, but I don’t know that. I speculate that the early birds are bound by memory to someplace north of here, and these first arrivals were just passing though on their way to YankeeLand.

But then, decisively on March 21, the summer nesters (some of the same families from last year?) arrived and have been putting on the air show against a backdrop of green and blue. Spring has come!

Yesterday, the crows had conspicuously chosen mates, and walked around two by two, looking for grubs in the yard. Every day for the next month, I’ll be listening for new arrivals, and saving them using Merlin Bird App. Highly recommended!

And the Night Flight Has Begun!

Nocturnal bird migration is underway, and you can track it for YOUR COUNTY, day by day (or rather, night by night) at an astounding level of detail.

How many birds, at what elevation, at what speed and direction? I find this remarkable, and a wonderful dual use of our extended eyes on the atmosphere.

This is possible because Nexrad Weather Radar towers across the country can serve a double purpose, and are able to detect birds just like they detect rain or hail.

Cloudy With a Chance of Warblers: this is how it is done! Radar assisted bird watching.

Future use of this real-time technology could help prevent birds flying into things by turning off skyscraper lights at night or powering down windmills briefly, warning when mass migrations are known to be on their way.

Go to uBirdCast and type in your county. Do this. It takes a few seconds. I’ll wait.

Bookmark this resource and come back a few times a week until the middle of June and watch bird migration like we’ve never been able to watch it happen before.

There are some technologies that are not evil.

And if you need more options, see When will migratory birds arrive? Find out using these bird migration maps for some other resources.

Below are a few snapshots from the BirdCast resource. Do check it out.

This is Sunday’s total. Last night the number was only 2.2k all night long. Wonder why?
We are still just starting to hear and see migrants, with a peak over the month of MAY.


There’s not a lot to go on here. A robin-sized uniformly dark bird with a strong bill, long tail. Am I giving away too much to say that the head is somewhat less dark than the body? Leave your answer in the comments!

– Fred First

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