I’m sure you know people who winter south of Seabrook Island then visit here on their way north where they spend summers in cooler climate! In my case, my parents live in Florida during the winter but still summer in Maine. Since they retired 15 years ago, whether our home was in Massachusetts, New Jersey or now here, our home has been a stopping point “on-the-way” during their spring and fall migrations. There are several species of birds that do the same thing! But unlike my parents, they are harder to find and identify.
Located along the Atlantic Flyway, Seabrook Island is a perfect location for these migrants to rest and refuel before continuing their journey. This spring we’ve talked a great deal about the Red Knot, a special shorebird which travels nearly 10,000 miles each spring from it’s winter home at the tip of South America to breed in the tundra barrens on the Arctic Circle. But did you know there are a number of other species we only see if they happen to stop on our island during their migration north or south? Here are just a few examples you might be lucky enough to see. Most of them are long distant migrants, and like many other migrating songbirds from eastern North America, they fly across the Gulf of Mexico in a single nonstop journey.
Our first example is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the bird that stopped at our friend’s feeder on Kiawah Island last week. Check out the eBird Occurrence Map to see its migration and learn more about where this beautiful bird winters and breeds.
The Yellow Warbler has a pretty song that sounds like “sweet-sweet-sweet, sweeter-than-sweet” . It winters in Central American and northern South America and breeds across central and northern North America.
The Magnolia Warbler winters in Mexico, Central America, and West Indies and breeds in Northeast US and Canada. Check out this cool animated map showing predicted distribution and relative abundance across all 52 weeks of the year.
The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a striking bird. It winters in the Caribbean and migrates through Florida heading to breed in the deep forests of the northeastern US and southeastern Canada.
Our final example, the Ovenbird, is a another warbler and has a very distinguishing song that sounds like “teacher teacher teacher“. Those breeding east of the Appalachians overwinter in Florida and the Carribbean, while those breeding further west fly to Mexico and Central America.
Watch and listen for these birds here this spring, or if you are returning to the north for part of the summer, you just might see some during your migration.
If you are interested in learning more about the study of bird migration, you may want to read The New Migration Science on The Cornell Labs All About Birds website.
Article Submitted by Nancy Brown
Photos by Ed Konrad