Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Wherein I Analyze My August Bird Sightings (so you can tune out now if you don't care)

Last year I reorganized my Roundtop birding records so I can better analyze the year to year differences in my monthly sightings. I am starting to see some interesting (to me at least) differences so I thought I’d post the results here.

What I saw (or didn’t see)

In 2007 I saw 36 species in August, two more than in 2006. However, it’s not just two more species--there’s quite a difference between the years in what those species are. In 2007, I didn’t see any nighthawks, catbirds or chimney swifts (migrants) nor did I find any downy woodpecker, blue jay, Canada Goose, Carolina wren or song sparrow (residents). However, in 2007 I did see stilt sandpiper, solitary sandpiper, kestrel, hummingbird, yellow-billed cuckoo (migrants) and house finch, bobwhite, screech owl and both chickadees (residents), though I didn’t have any of these on my 2006 list.

The blue jay was the oddest resident species missing in August 2007. I didn’t see or hear them once this month, and they are usually quite common virtually everywhere in the forest. However, bright and early on September 1, I stepped ourside the tent and the first bird I heard was (you guessed it) a blue jay. For the rest of the weekend a day didn't go by without hearing or seeing one. At this point, I'm guessing they were simply re-nesting.

When they Left…

Several of the summer residents have already gone missing, and it’s interesting to compare this year’s last sighting day with the previous year. In 2006 my last towhee sighting was Aug. 29; in 2007 it was Aug. 26. My last sighting of wood thrush this year was Aug. 4; it was Aug 10 in 2006. This year both species disappeared a few days earlier than last year, but the kingbird breaks this pattern. In 2006 my last sighting was Aug. 22, this year it was Aug. 26. Still, there’s a remarkable similarity in when these residents head south.

August Climate

The August temperature locally was 1 degree above normal. Interestingly, the average high temperature was actually a few tenths of a degree lower than average. However, the average low temperature (the night time temepature) was 2 degrees above normal. August 2007 was more overcast than usual, which moderated the usual nighttime temperatures. I don't think we can blame global warming for this one.


So why a photo of a cockatiel today? Well, when was the last time you saw a feral cockatiel? This bird has been feral since at least April, when it started showing up at bird feeders in the small town of Wellsville PA, where my sister lives. The bird roosts down along the creek that runs through the town and is canny enough to have eluded an attack by at least one hawk. I have no idea what will happen in another month or so. Will instinct kick in, causing the bird to migrate? Will it stay and if so how will it deal with the winter? Stay tuned.

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