On the right hand pages there are columns for the 12 months, with varying thickness and darkness of lines indicating when a particular species is here in Ohio. The thickest black lines are used for our common nesting birds during the peak of the nesting season. As these birds begin to leave the area, the lines on the page become thinner and finally show a series of dots. When the dots stop, that species is normally gone for the year. However, there may still be sightings after that - these are the birds that should be reported as unusual or even rare because of their tardy departures.
Many birders think fall migration happens only in September and October. Sure, September is a prime month for seeing a variety of fall migrants, but the fall migration begins much earlier. Iím not even going to get into the very interesting shorebird migration patterns, but instead will look at some of our songbirds.
One of the reasons that understanding departure dates are somewhat difficult is the fact that most birds stop singing after the breeding season, so they are not nearly as easy to keep track of. Orioles are a good example. Both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles are highly visible while they are singing in May and June. By the middle of July that is ending, and the peak migration period for both these species is from mid-July to mid-August. By the beginning of September most of them are long gone. Prothonotary Warblers and Kentucky Warblers also head south in August, with stragglers perhaps into early September. Peak fall migration dates for Yellow Warblers fall from mid-July to mid-August, although sightings of some Yellows continues into the early fall. When we find a Yellow Warbler in November or December, it is a very rare bird indeed, although it does happen once in awhile.
Swallows are another family that migrates early. All the species of swallows that nest in our area begin migration in July and August. Tree Swallows have an extended migration window, from early July through most of October. Barn Swallows may also stay around into the fall, but Banks and Cliffs are hard to find after mid-September.
Willow Flycatchers migrate south mainly in August while the other flycatchers are often around for another month, but finding any flycatcher except the Eastern Phoebe in October is unusual.
If you are interested in learning more about the movements of all our birds, pick up a copy of this informative booklet. Time and Optics, located on CR 77 south of Mt. Hope, stocks the booklet. You can use it as a reference although the more you have in your head, the better off you will be in the field.
As for those shorebirds, the early birds are already heading south after their brief stay in the far north. Birds really are amazing.
Published: July 2, 2012