Saturday May 9th is World Migratory Bird Day! Birds are one of my favorite groups of animals to observe in nature because we can find them virtually everywhere in our environment! World Migratory Bird Day is especially remarkable because its the celebration of birds migrating worldwide towards their breeding and wintering grounds. Many of Maine’s early migrants have already found their way to Maine. Within the next coming weeks, we will continue to see warblers, flycatchers, and raptors are some that will be finishing their long journeys to start yet another – breeding and nesting!
World Migratory Bird Day in the Americas
Visit the Migratory Bird Day website to find more information on migratory monitoring efforts, learning resources, and virtual events going on this weekend.
DIY CRAFT: Make your Own Binoculars! https://www.audubon.org/news/diy-craft-how-make-cardboard-binoculars-kids
A Hermit thrush
Seen in the Wildlands on the Oak Hill Path, two Hermit Thrushes did not mind my company as they sung and foraged for insects in the leaf litter. Their metallic-like sound is beautifully haunting and echos loudly through the forest. For more on the Hermit thrush visit All About Birds.
Looking for Somewhere to Bird Watch?
Visit Downeast Audubon for more information on these different locations for birding throughout Hancock County.
Birding locations in Hancock County, ME
Image from Downeast Audubon.
To learn more about why birds migrate, see this Audubon Adventure guide by Audubon
Game: Follow a Bird’s Migration. Play this interactive game created by For The Birds! on Audubon.org
Signs of Spring
Another sure sign of spring being underway is when we hear and see our favorite song birds returning from their seasonal migration. Millions of birds take flight every spring and fall to travel between their winter and summer homes. They are in search of safe nesting areas and abundant food sources. Migration in Maine starts as early as February with the arrival of red-winged blackbirds and runs well into the end of May with some warblers straggling behind. These long journeys are no easy task. Many of the summer migrants we see in Maine travel from their wintering grounds in Central and South America!
Getting to know the birds
Early spring is a good time to learn about some birding basics. Then by summer, you’ll have some good tools in your back pocket while learning more about bird behavior and identification. This BirdSleuth Explorers Guide is a great place to start!
Using smartphone apps in nature
If you have the chance to use a smartphone device while outside, apps like Ebird and Inaturalist are useful tools for identifying the animals and plants in your environment. While birding, Audubon’s field guide can help you enter features about an unknown bird to help you identify it.
The distinct “peent” noise of the American woodcock in early spring is a good sign that migrations have begun. This shorebird relative has adapted to live in forested habitats – roosting, nesting and displaying in young forests and clear cut areas. They have surprisingly large eyes positioned far back on their heads and located above their ears. In combination with a 3inch bill suited for catching earthworms, they can watch for predators while probing for worms!
If you listen closely, you can hear the “peent” noise woodcock make while displaying. After a few rounds of “peents”, the woodcock springs into the air, spiraling upwards in a complicated mating dance. Their wings make twitter-twitter-cheep-chep-chip noises as they cut through the air during flight. After flying upwards of 200 feet into the air, they begin falling back down to where they had originally taken off. You can hear woodcock partaking in their courtship displays at dawn and dusk throughout the spring.
On your next early morning or sunset adventure, try to listen for American woodcock displaying. How many of them are in one area? How close can you get without startling them? This is a great way to practice your quiet observation and identification skills!
The Blue Hill Heritage Trust posted an activity called “The Wonders of Woodcock” by Jo Barrett. Click here for the download.
Audubon for Kids!
Visit the Audubon.org to reach Audubon’s classroom curriculum, virtual games, and other educational tools. Week 3 talks all about bird migration!
Get In Touch
Follow us on Facebook and instagram @exploreoutdoorsmaine . We love hearing about your outdoor adventures, share your photos and thoughts with us . Use the hashtag #EO!Maine