Date: 8/30/17 10:01 pm From: Richard Bradus <grizzledjay...> [SFBirds] <SFBirds-noreply...> Subject: [SFBirds] Bird Behavior During the Eclipse (out of area)
Please forgive me if this is too far off topic (and for my tardiness).
As many of you know, my primary focus when birdwatching is not counts or sightings but rather the natural history, especially breeding and behavior. So it was somewhat surprising to me that there have been very few comments about behavioral changes during the total solar eclipse of 21 August. Perhaps that is because this area only experienced partial coverage of the sun?
I was lucky enough to observe the total eclipse from open space at the northern border of Corvallis, Oregon - an experience of a lifetime! While birding was obviously not my primary purpose, I was paying attention to the natural activity all around me, particularly the avian activity, though more listening than sighting. As a general observation, activity in the area was clearly crepuscular, probably as it got quite warm to hot by mid day into the early evenings. The morning of the eclipse was similar but there was a distinct pick-up in bird activity when the sun's light began to appear slightly subdued (from greater than 80% to about 95% of totality). There were a number of corvids (crows and jays) that became more active and vocal around 85% or so of coverage, followed by small groups of 4 or 5 Vaux's Swifts that flew about when coverage was perhaps 90%. Black-capped Chickadees were the most numerous and vocal species, while most others (Acorn and other Woodpeckers, Spotted Towhee and smaller birds) were mostly sheltered in trees or undergrowth and heard only. An Anna's hummer flew in and perched above us as the light continued to slowly decrease, but then everything went surprisingly quiet as totality approached and did not pick up again until a bit after the sun returned. Eerie! (My limited eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38834776)
For anyone who is interested, while there is no way to fully comprehend the impact of totality if you were not there, I cobbled together a short video that conveys some of the experience, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_uUzRLR1jc I'd be very interested to hear other's experiences or observations and share (off-list, please!)
A week later and still awestruck!
Richard BradusSan Francisco