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Shorebird Migration Well Underway

7-30-18 greater yellowlegs 286Contrary to what it’s called, the “fall” migration of shorebirds has been underway since early July, and is in full swing, peaking in August. Vermont is home to only a few breeding shorebirds (Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, American Woodcock).  Most of the shorebirds we see this time of year are those migrating south after nesting in the Arctic.

Shorebirds move south relatively early compared to many migratory birds, in part, because the breeding season in the Arctic is quite short. In addition, those birds whose first nesting attempt failed tend to migrate soon afterwards rather than attempt a second nesting, due, once again, to the brief Arctic summer. Also, in several species one member of a pair often leaves before the young are full grown, sometimes even before the eggs hatch, leaving the remaining adult to raise the young.

The young of most shorebirds migrate later than the adults.  There can be as much as a month between the peak passage of adults and that of juvenile birds. (Photo:  Greater Yellowlegs)

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3 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Such a long flight for these birds…good thing they enjoy flying. Such strong instincts. Several years ago, at Burrage, on the South Shore, we saw a Greater Yellowlegs…an impressive bird.

    August 1, 2018 at 8:39 am

  2. Sarah Gilson

    Interesting. We went woodcock hunting in the dark several times during nesting season with our birding group. We heard one once!

    On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 8:06 AM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Contrary to what it’s called, the “fall” migration > of shorebirds has been underway since early July, and is in full swing, > peaking in August. Vermont is home to only a few breeding shorebirds > (Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe,” >

    August 1, 2018 at 2:49 pm

  3. jagrauer

    So cool to see the phenology in different areas! I’m in Nebraska now so it will be interesting to see when they start coming back through the area.

    August 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm

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