Spring Migration and Hyperlocal Birding

Western Tanager, a common backyard visitor during migration

By Alyssa S.

For bird lovers, spring migration is a magical time. An unusual visitor or an unfamiliar song amidst the usual voices incites wonder, and we welcome the return of reliable favorites. With the current stay-at-home order, many people have more opportunity to observe the migration occurring through our own yards and neighborhoods. Yearly highlights I look forward to in my neighborhood include various warblers, Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeaks in May, a flycatcher or two, Vaux Swifts, and if I’m lucky, a Common Nighthawk hunting in the dusk sky around Midsummer’s Eve.

Backyard Birding

Birds are best observed around dawn, when you’ll hear a symphony of local residents and migrants, and late afternoon. For a friendly introduction to backyard birding, borrow the handy Western Birds guide from Birdwatchers’ Digest. To identify unfamiliar migrants in your neighborhood, try out the free Audubon Bird Guide app or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s clever and incredibly robust free Merlin bird ID app.

Many migrating birds fly at night and feed in our yards by day. If your neighborhood is reasonably free of noise pollution, you may be able to hear songbird flocks’ soft calls high overhead in the dark. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birdcast offers a real-time migration forecast and an animated map of the previous 24 hours’ migration traffic rate.

Armchair Birding

Numerous migration-based bird festivals were forced to cancel this year, so how about some armchair migration travel? Check out A Season on the Wind, the latest from Kenn Kaufman, author of the wonderful Kingbird Highway. A Season on the Wind chronicles Kaufman’s observations over the course of one season at one of the most spectacular migration sites in the country, northwestern Ohio along Lake Erie, sharing the science and magic of migration as well as human encroachment’s complex threats. Or try ornithologist Bruce Beehler’s North on the Wing, an account of his four-month solo trip tracking spring migration from south Texas to northern Ontario  that combines field notes, travelogue, and cultural and environmental history.

For more migration-related eBooks and streaming videos from Sno-Isle Libraries, visit my Spring Migration list.

What migrating birds have you seen in your neighborhood this spring? Which are you hoping for? Tell us in the comments.


Tags: , , , , , ,


2 responses to “Spring Migration and Hyperlocal Birding”

  1. Gloria says:

    Thanks for your birding enthusiasm and these resources. I am a birder too. Unfortunately, I spent too much time & frustration trying to access half of them. I think I finally managed to get set up for the Kanapy but, damn, it was a hassle. I haven’t watched anything yet, but I am assuming that it will be functional when I do. Downloading the ebooks was a different world of hell. I think I actually got one of them ready on my iPad. Clearly, I am more bird friendly than e-tech friendly. I might add that our own Cliff Mast weather guy regularly adds information regarding migrations that show up on radar – if folks check his blog/postings. Happy birding to all.
    P.S at least half the time when I try to comment on these library blogs..the program stalls…and I can not get the cursor to move to the email address & name. The get around i have discovered is to refresh the page (after taking care to copy my comments) re-paste my comments and then usually I can get it to move on… but many times, I just bag it and give up even trying to respond to the blogs…

    • Alyssa S says:

      Hi Gloria, I’m sorry you have had such difficulty accessing electronic resources but I’m really glad you were inspired to try. Regarding posting comments on Bibliofiles, have you tried a different browser? For example, many people still use Microsoft Internet Explorer which is no longer supported by its creator and many websites do not work well with it. People often find that Google Chrome works better on many sites. Also, if you’d like some personal help with electronic media and/or the library website, we’d be happy to set up a phone call or Zoom videoconference with you. Please call the Lynnwood Library at 425-778-2148 and leave a message and we’ll return it within the day, if you’d like to try that. -Alyssa

Leave a reply (comments are moderated before posting)