Morning Flight Count Sep 6 update – 20,000 bird day

Photo: Tom Reed

Flights this week were relatively slow, with counts ranging from 100 to 500 migrant passerines in the mornings. However; there is one major exception. On Saturday Sep 5th a massive flight occurred following a solid cold front Friday night.

Earlier in the week the weather was unfavorable with hot conditions and South or Southeasterly winds. Late Friday evening a cold front passed and winds whipped around to the northwest, cutting loose a massive push of migrants from the north.

Arriving at Higbee Dike early Saturday morning felt a bit like a day in early October with temps in the 60s and a biting 15 mph northwest wind. Well before sunrise many birds were already on the move, seeming to predict we were in a for a good morning. Once the sun came up, everything broke loose atop the dike. A river of thousands of songbirds flooded in and streamed past us for over an hour and a half. Throughout the morning we counted over 20,000 birds flying north past the dike, a spectacular and record day for early September.

A majority of the flight consisted of American Redstarts. 6,678 were counted this morning.

Photo: Daniel Irons

A record high count of 1,903 Northern Parulas zipped past as well.

Photo: Daniel Irons

Black and white Warblers also came through in strong numbers. 441 were counted.

Photo: Tom Reed

34 Chestnut-sided Warblers were counted, a high number for the dike.

Photo: Tom Reed

The flight had a good variety of sparser migrants like this Blackburnian Warbler. 11 flew north past the dike this morning.

Most of the Eastern Kingbirds have moved south already this fall, a lot more cleared out today with 1,185 flying past the dike.

Photo: Daniel Irons

A number of Purple Finches have started moving south for the winter already, announcing that there will likely be an invasion of them into our area this winter.

Photo: Tom Reed

Other highlights included 1661 Purple Martins, which is unusually high for this late in the season, 488 Yellow Warblers, 346 Baltimore Orioles, and a record count of 355 Red-eyed Vireos. Hopefully proper cold fronts with northwest winds and good numbers like this are an indicator of what’s to come in the next few months.

You can check out the day’s full species list and numbers by clicking below

The weather conditions for this coming week look unfavorable so far with winds out of the east, southeast, or northeast. If this pattern holds, we’ll be in for a slow week. Either way, there’s always something exciting happening up on the dike.


Thanks for reading!

Daniel Irons