Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stand by for something

Susquehanna River in the early morning
At first, I thought it was just me. After weeks of 90 degree heat and high humidity, lower humidity and 80 degrees felt so wonderful, so wonderfully like fall that I thought I was just giddy with relief. But it’s not just me. It’s the birds, too. Fall is sneaking in, quietly, with little fanfare just yet. The signs, the data even, all point to it.

Bird migration is where I see it. Raptor migration is ahead of schedule for this point in August. For some species, hawkwatches are already reporting numbers equal to or greater than what they normally record for the entire month of August. And it’s not just raptors. Warbler migration is ahead of schedule by at least a week or two. Radar clearly shows nighttime migration already at a level that is unusual for August, let alone an August that still has another week in it.

So the question now becomes, do they know something that we don’t yet?

Are the food sources failing? Do they feel some anomaly in the weather that makes them think it’s already time to get the heck out of Dodge?

Please don’t ask me the answer. I don’t have it. But I can see that migration is underway and that it is rather substantially ahead of schedule. I think of birds as little fortune tellers. They often know things about weather that we don’t. I don’t know how they know, but they do. I’ve seen Broad-winged Hawks acting desperate to head south days ahead of their normal schedule in front of a weather system that humans predicted wouldn’t amount to much only to have it sock in the east coast for the next 10 days. So I listen to the rhythms of the raptors and the warblers, even if I don’t know what they know. I know them well enough to know it means something.


The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I agree…in spite of the weather, which remains nice hereabouts, something is afoot seasonally. There are subtle signs everywhere, and like you, I wonder what's going on. Guess we'll have the answer eventually.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: So the seasonal oddness is going on out your way, too. My New England sources are reporting similar activity, too. Yes, we will find out eventually what's going on--I'm not sure we'll like it, though, once we do fine out.

Carolyn H.