Date: 9/16/20 12:33 am
From: Lee Jaffe <leejaffe54...>
Subject: Re: [MBBIRDS] Smoke birding question for the experts
I've been wondering about the fires' effect on another aspect of migration,
timing. There is an area of study that tries to understand the complex
timing of various natural phenomena, including the emergence of certain
insects, blooms, seeds, etc. In the early 1980s, I worked with a biologist
who was trying to measure "degree-days" – a sequence of spring days when
the temps reached a certain level (If I recall correctly) – that triggered
the emergence of Codling Moths. I've been hearing more recently about how
climate change has advanced some natural calendars and, in some cases,
migrating birds are arriving at feeding grounds too early or too late
because their favorite food hasn't yet emerged or has already come and
gone. Or arriving at breeding grounds so late that some offspring aren't
ready for the migration before the weather changes.

I've therefore wondered about migrants arriving at habitual destinations to
find large swaths of land scorched and nothing to eat. In many cases, I
understand that the timing of migrations is critical, with very narrow
margins of error. Some birds only just barely make it to a tried-and-true
feeding ground which may be critical to the next stage of their journey.
And all of this timed to an annual cycle that can place a whole species at
risk. I wonder if smoke, on top of fire damage, might have an impact on
temperatures, if say that less sunlight might result in a later appearance
of insects or plant activity and therefore might add to the disruption of
bird migrations. In other words, if they manage to find their way to their
destinations despite blanketing smoke, will there be anything to eat when
they arrive?

Yeah, lots of time to brood on "what's the worst that can happen" these
days.

Lee Jaffe


On Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 9:28 PM Anne Spence <aspencerrt...> wrote:

> 9/15/20
> Was curious if a more expert birder, "ornithological/scientific-type" mind
> would be willing to
> try an answer a question:
>
> Since California has really never seen these types of fires & huge clouds
> of smoke that
> "wipe the coastland off the map," what do you think these clouds will do
> to migrating bird flocks?
>
> I've read the Audubon's internet article about how birds will react to
> fires. The article didn't really answer what the birds would do if they've
> already been migrating.
>
> If they can't see the moon while flying or sky while flying at night how
> can they navigate?
> Will they just stay in place until the smoke clears completely?
> Or move a little at a time?
>
> Hope this isn't a stupid question..
> Weather West <https://weatherwest.com/archives/7532>
> Audubon.org <https://www.audubon.org/news/how-wildfires-affect-birds>
>
> Thanks,
> *Anne Spence*
>
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