Date: 6/20/18 12:32 pm From: Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes <cth4...> Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] Where are the birds?
Something not mentioned is the impact of unexpected Atlantic tropical and hurricane storm systems and the affect these may have upon migrating neotropical passerines which launch from the Cape Hatteras, North Carolina area East out into the Atlantic Ocean, to catch the Trade Winds pushing them back toward the Caribbean and Northeastern South America. An example of this migration is the well documented occurrence of Blackpoll Warblers taking advantage of this wind pattern, their migration of which takes place over several days.
Looking at accidentals, you will see several North American neotropical migrants which showed up on the Island of Flores and Corvo Island located WNW of The Azores, which is about 2,100 to 2,300 nautical miles to the ENE of Hatteras, NC. Several of these showed up in the days following the passage of Hurricane Maria. You can view this map to see the storm tracks and dates: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tracks/tracks-at-2017.png The only plausible explanation of the abundance of these accidentals (several Blackpoll Warblers this past fall, for example), is the direct migration interference these massive storm systems may have had upon the migrants setting out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Imagine a single key moment during migration, where thousands of birds take off from Hatteras, NC or other nearby areas along the East Coast, headed East, aiming for those favorable Trade Winds to return them back to land, only to be disrupted and exhausted by the unexpected rapid approach of a massive hurricane. How many thousands of migrants might perish? How would that affect species at the population level? Could the dearth of birds this spring (as we have also seen with increasing frequency over the years) be the direct result of the increasing frequency of and numbers of major hurricanes or other perfect storms?
Perhaps this is worthy of some collaborative research project.
I remember this conversation last year. If there is a marked rapid decline in song birds as reported, then something has occurred in the past couple years that is wiping our birds out. Habitat loss is a gradual slow process that would not be so readily noticed on a wide scale from year to year. The weather patterns, I don't believe were bad enough for massive mortality events (although I haven't looked into this in full depth). Wind farms keep popping up, but again its a gradual pressure that wouldn't manifest itself in 1-2 years for such reported rapid declines. The only thing I can think of is if there is a disease (west nile?) that is affecting songbirds and other species? This could explain two poor breeding seasons. Does anyone know if this is being reported in species of songbirds???
The current "record" based on banded birds returned to the wild is 8 years 2 months. That said, Nancy may well have been enjoying the progeny of that first pair as their site fidelity is high.
John and Sue Gregoire
Kestrel Haven Migration Observatory
5373 Fitzgerald Rd
Burdett, NY 14818
On 2018-06-19 17:17, Asher Hockett wrote:
Likely "your" pewee was at least two different birds, as their lifespan is ~7 years.
On Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 7:57 PM, Nancy Cusumano <nancycusumano62...><mailto:<nancycusumano62...>> wrote:
It really is an odd summer! We also are missing "our" peewee, who has been here reliably for the 14 years I have lived in this house. Missing him!
There are at least 2 pair of great crested flycatchers and on Friday an Indigo bunting showed up and is still around singing his head off from the tops of the black locust trees.
There are sapsucker babies (that sound like they are humming in morse code from inside the tree) and bluebirds too. So down one peewee, up a bunting? Guess I would call that OK....but I want my peewee back.
Over 30years of banding, migration and population study here and we experienced and ever increasing paucity of birds. About 15 years ago I wrote a report citing these losses. While many can be linked to loss of habitat mainly due to factory farming, that didn't account for the lack of song. We prognosticated at the time that populations within species were undergoing a drastic diminishment.That has since been shown to be even worse than we guessed ( based on American Bird Conservancy data sets).
A result most noticeable was in song. With fewer competitors, birds in lesser numbers arrive on native land and , if they find it still existent, establish a territory. With little or no competition, the territorial song is short lived -after all, why expend energy needlessly? Defense of territory is seldom needed so in season song is greatly diminished.
That doesn't mean it stops entirely but certainly far less than what we new 50, 40 or 30 years ago.
Fast forward to the crazy migration we experienced this spring. Expected species have still not checked in and we guess they either overflew or were content to our south. We have the same experience with Veery here and Wood Thrush has been declining steadily. Least Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo are all missing and the fancy Thrushes once a stopover certainty haven't been seen for several years. Yesterday, we finally had a single Pewee. On the positive side we are inundated with Grosbeaks, Purple Finch, Great-crested Flycatchers, cuckoos and others that are normally here in much smaller numbers.
Looking South to the greater DC area, many of these species are still there and that's abnormal. Check the ADK reports and they are also having a strange year although I've not seen any thoughts on the subject from that area.
The short answer is an unusual migration window with lots of weather effect, rapidly declining populations creating an environment where our old expectations are no longer valid.
I liked it much better several decades ago. We have stopped banding passerines and happy we did as the disappointment would be even greater.
I have noticed, as have others, that the woods have not been as plentiful with bird song as normal. On my recent walks at Upper Buttermilk I have been very disappointed in the total absence of Wood Thrush, Veery, and Scarlet Tanager. By this time in past years I've always have several of these birds. On my most recent walk (Friday) I was wonderfully surprised to hear 2 Wood Thrush and 2-3 each of Veery and Scarlet Tanager. Why the sudden "reappearance"?? I know I'm going to be criticized for asking, but could some birds (species) still be migrating in? If not, then why did they finally "show up"? Some could argue they were busy with nesting. But I've never experienced birds remaining completely mum during the nesting season. Another argument could be that they are now moving around after the first brood. I doubt that would explain the numbers of these species I had all of a sudden plopping down in Upper Buttermilk? By the way, we picnicked at Upper Treman yesterday and bird song was relatively infrequent. Do any of you have any thoughts on this subject??
Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes
Field Applications Engineer
Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850
W: 607-254-2418<tel:607-254-2418> M: 607-351-5740<tel:607-351-5740> F: 607-254-1132<tel:607-254-1132>