Date: 2/13/20 4:35 am
From: Bill Eddleman <eddlemanw...>
Subject: Re: Third observation of massive blackbird roost in northern Boone County
I've viewed the videos, and while there are a lot of birds coming in to roost, this is relatively small compared to roosts we once had in the southeastern part of the state. We don't see them so much any more. I don't know whether their wintering patterns have shifted the last few years, or whether the decline in these common species has eliminated the large flocks of over 1/4 to several million.
Yet another example of shifting baseline syndrome. Bird abundance and distributions many of us knew as young birders is gone, and today's younger birders only know current population levels and distributions.
----Bill Eddleman, Cape Girardeau
On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 12:51:40 PM CST, Eric Reuter <eric...> wrote:

Yesterday evening (2/11/20) Joanna and I returned to the miscanthus
field in northern Boone County where we had twice previously observed
massive flocks of mixed Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds
flowing in to roost at dusk from foraging areas at least 10 miles away
(see MoBirds posts from January 5 and 17). The birds are still using
this site; from ~5:30-6:00 pm we observed constant streams of arrivals
with huge numbers already present in the field and the surrounding
trees. A 3-minute video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su_s7-I2Kq0)
captures some of the fascinating and mesmerizing flight dynamics of
these flocks.

An excellent place to observe these flocks is at the dead-end of Dunbar
Lane (https://goo.gl/maps/6ofVLMeDUshhm98E6), a public gravel road with
good turn-around spots and no immediate houses nearby. This is on a rise
over the larger of the two miscanthus fields and gives a panoramic view
of the blackbird streams arriving from multiple directions and the
flight dynamics within the field. It's important to go at dusk; they
don't seem to use this site during the day (flying off to forage
elsewhere) but we are now 3 for 3 in finding them there in the evening
(morning ought to be good, too, but we haven't tried). Currently,
arriving by 5:30 pm would put observers in the heart of their activity
and earlier would let one observe the beginning of the arrivals. We left
at 6 pm but activity was still very strong then and likely continued for
some time as there were still huge numbers of birds in the air and
surrounding trees; on past visits the birds eventually left the trees
and came down into the field as dusk wore on. If you go earlier, drive
to the north and try to find the first streams heading south; you can
follow these all the way to the roost site, which is great fun.

Eric & Joanna Reuter
Boone County, MO

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