Bryan's Posts About Migration

A Butterfly and a Tribute to Glenn Jenks

During fall migration here on Monhegan Island, Maine: a butterfly and a memorial.

Backgrounder: Where Are the Snow Geese?

For three decades, as autumn leaves blazed and swirled across Vermont, an annual rite of fall was the Champlain Valley “snowstorm.” Snow Geese in migration, sometimes more than 10,000 in day, filled the skies and covered fields in a honking blanket of geese. But here’s the forecast for the fall of 2015: the blizzard ain’t happening anymore. Instead we’ve got flurries.

Monhegan Migration Report No. 5: Life and Death in Flight

Here on Monhegan Island, the north winds deliver us migrating songbirds, and the raptors take them away.

Monhegan Migration Report No. 4: Summer Weather and Summer Tanagers

Three Merlins and three Sharp-shinned Hawks chased Northern Flickers in open warfare this morning, a natural event each fall on Monhegan.

Monhegan Migration Report No. 3: The Usual Oddities

THE USUAL RARE BIRDS HAVE ARRIVED. Yeah, it’s an oxymoron. How can rare birds be usual? Well, this is Monhegan Island, after all, where oddities (avian and human) are commodities. Take Lark Sparrow and Dickcissel, which basically breed no closer to…

Spring Migration: The Surge Begins

The Black-billed Cuckoo beat its caterpillars senseless this morning before swallowing them whole. The Scarlet Tanagers sang for us in full-frontal view. And an Eastern Bluebird warbled from the top of a white pine. Another morning of spring migration.

Why the American Robin is a Badass Bird

Hardly denizens of the suburban front lawns, American Robins conquer territory with a blend of moxie and manifest destiny, kind of like another American species we know all too well.

A Blackpoll Warbler’s Daring Trans-Atlantic Flight

Two wings and a prayer carry a Blackpoll Warbler on a remarkable journey to South America each autumn. Well, actually, two wings and the audacity to pull off one of the most amazing feats of migration on the planet: a non-stop, trans-Atlantic flight lasting up to three days.

After only speculating about this amazing journey for decades, my colleagues at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies today announced the proof. Blackpoll Warblers fitted with miniature tracking devices took off from points in either Nova Scotia or the northeastern U.S. and flew south over the Atlantic, with no safe place to land, until reaching Caribbean islands roughly 1,600 miles away.

The Second Sunrise: A Final Monhegan Migration Report

He flashed yellow like an autumn sugar maple. When he launched from the meadow, the sun rose a second time over Monhegan Island. And as we left the island Monday for a wild boat ride, this star of fall migration – a young male Yellow-headed Blackbird – was still flying sorties and issuing his kuh-duck flight calls to the departing birdwatchers.

Hello, Yellow

A Yellow-headed Blackbird has been traversing the skies over Monhegan Island, Maine, for the past couple of days. This westerner heads east now and then, more commonly reaching the Midwest. Occasionally one or two will land here on this small rock off Maine’s midcoast.

The Spineless on Monhegan

On north winds Wednesday morning the songbirds came to Monhegan – and then they left. Our gentle rain of migrants included newly arrived Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-winged Warbler (thanks to Tony Vazzano) and Cerulean Warbler, an extraordinary bird for the island. Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow, the usual Monhegan oddballs, entertained the besotted birders.

Opening Day

To borrow an entire chapter from William Faulkner: My favorite is a fish. Even though we saw more Cape May Warblers than Yellow rumped Warblers; even though Northern Gannets are plunge-diving everywhere offshore; even though Philadelphia Vireos present themselves with such elegance; even though Philadelphia Vireos make me swoon and happy; even though a Sharp-shinned Hawk chased a Belted Kingfisher by our deck during brunch; and even though we watched a couple of Minke Whales drift past Black Head; my favorite encounter during our first day with fall migrants on Monhegan Island, Maine, was the Ocean Sunfish off White Head.