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Kites, Cranes, a Rail, an Ibis, & a Whale

Armas Hill has presented the "Birdline", originally from Philadelphia, on the phone and internet for over 3 decades, and on the radio in Delaware for about 10 years.


A List & Photo Gallery of North American Birds, in 6 Parts

A List & Photo Gallery of North American Mammals


The Birdline & Natureline for June 6, 2012:   

MISSISSIPPI KITES are most common during their breeding season in the South-Central United States. It's been said that the species is expanding its range in the West. Apparently it is in the East as well.
In the Mid-Atlantic States, for years now, it has been seen with some frequency in the late spring, in May and June. On occasion, it has been seen, at that time of year, further north in New England.

In New Hampshire, in Newmarket, a MISSISSIPPI KITE was seen on May 26. A few have been nesting in that New England town during the past several years.

In New York, lately, at the Sterling Forest in Orange County, sterling looks have been had of a pair of MISSISSIPPI KITES during late May and into June. By the parking lot at the visitor center there, the kites have been seen in flight and perched in a tall bare tree.
One day in late May, the adult male was observed in nest-building activity. The next day, a sub-adult female was first seen there.     

A MISSISSIPPI KITE was seen in Staten Island, New York City, in late May, over the Clover Lakes Park. 

In New Jersey, there have been MISSISSIPPI KITE sightings at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge on May 29 & June 6.

At Sandy Hook, New Jersey, that juts out toward New York Harbor, a total of 10 MISSISSIPPI KITES were in the sky on May 28, first 7 and then another 3.   

Someone in northern Jersey was lucky to see a MISSISSIPPI KITE while driving along the Garden State Parkway in Passaic County on May 17. 

In Pennsylvania, a sub-adult MISSISSIPPI KITE was observed by birders in Erie, by Lake Erie, on May 24. Going northeast, high in the sky, it traveled quickly. 

In Delaware, an adult MISSISSIPPI KITE was seen soaring high over Bombay Hook Refuge on June 2.   

In Maryland, a MISSISSIPPI KITE (maybe the same) was noted in the Rockville area on June 3 & 6. 
A MISSISSIPPI KITE was seen by someone kayaking near Annapolis, Maryland on May 27.

In Virginia, a MISSISSIPPI KITE was seen above the Lee Highway in Fairfax County on June 3.  

A SWALLOW-TAILED KITE was in Massachusetts, over Nantucket Island, in late May.   

SANDHILL CRANES seem to be seen more than before throughout the eastern US during the late-spring and summer months. Here are some recent sightings:
In late May, a SANDHILL CRANE was seen a few times near Alexandria, New Hampshire.
A SANDHILL CRANE has returned to Monroe, New Hampshire for the 14th year in a row. Lately, seen there regularly. 

In upstate New York, 2 SANDHILL CRANES were noted in Saquoit, on May 29. 

A pair of SANDHILL CRANES were observed in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, east of Lock Haven, on May 20.
On May 31, a SANDHILL CRANE was first, heard, then seen, one morning in Bath, Northhampton County, Pennsylvania. 
In late May, a SANDHILL CRANE was present in York County, Pennsylvania - seen one time at an old drive-in theater.    

In Delaware, a SANDHILL CRANE was at the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge on May 26. 

A SANDHILL CRANE was seen in Montgomery County, Maryland on June 1, near the C&O Canal.

How far east do CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS occur during the breeding season?
In Pennsylvania, for sure.
In New Hampshire, one was observed in Newington, until at least June 5.

In southern Pennsylvania, a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was seemingly found in Cumberland County on June 3. 
In upstate New York, on May 24, at a place called Gadway Barren, a bird sound not usually heard there was found to be from a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW.  

At a number of sites in southern Quebec, Canada, and even more in central-western Quebec, CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS have been found during the breeding season, during the present breeding bird atlasing - where a few were found during the first atlas 30 years ago.
In July 2011, near Valleyfield, Quebec, a singing CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was found among singing FIELD SPARROWS. 

A BLACK RAIL found in West Virginia on May 29, in Hampshire County, was only the 2nd BLACK RAIL ever found in West Virginia. The first was in April 1955. 

SNOWY PLOVERS in North America are usually along the Gulf Coast, the Pacific Coast, at various places in the West, and occasionally in the area of the Great Lakes.
A SNOWY PLOVER in Pennsylvania, at Presque Isle in Erie, on June 3 & 4, was the 4th record of the species in that state. A day or so previously, apparently the same bird was at Conneaut Harbor, Ohio, also by Lake Erie.
The first SNOWY PLOVER in Pennsylvania was, oddly, in Berks County, not near a Great Lake or any seacoast for that matter, in June 1886. In a museum, it was initially mislabeled as a PIPING PLOVER.
The second SNOWY PLOVER in Pennsylvania was at Presque Isle in Erie in May 1986, one years after the state's first.
There was one other between 1986 and 2012.   

Another unexpected bird this spring in Erie, Pennsylvania was a male KIRTLAND'S WARBLER, seen and photographed on May 22.
There was one previous record of the species there in May 1997, and maybe another unsubstantiated occurrence.

The overall population of the KIRTLAND'S WARBLER has increased in recent years, and there has even been an expansion of its breeding range.
In the US, in 2011, during surveys of nesting areas, there were 1,838 singing male KIRTLAND'S WARBLERS, up from record lows of 167 in 1974 & 1987.

Historically, KIRTLAND'S WARBLERS nested only in Michigan, in Jack Pine forests in the central part of the state.
In recent years, the species has also been nesting in the US in Wisconsin, and in Canada in Ontario.
In Adams County, Wisconsin, from 2007 to 2011, at least 45 KIRTLAND'S WARBLER NESTS produced an estimated 54 to 72 fledglings.
In June 2007, the KIRTLAND'S WARBLER was found nesting in Ontario, Canada, about 100 miles north of Ottawa.
In Ontario, from 2007 to 2011, seven KIRTLAND'S WARBLER NESTS produced at least 23 fledglings.

There will be a FONT tour in Wisconsin later this year, in October, not when the KIRTLAND'S WARBLERS are in the state, but when lots of other birds will be at various places that we'll visit. 
Additionally, we'll be going to the International Crane Foundation and in northern part of the state we'll be with people of the Timber Wolf Alliance. About 800 wolves are now estimated  to be in the state.
For info:
Back to some recent bird news: 

Two PHALAROPES on a farm pond in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, on May 30, were a female and a male, but they were a female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE and a male WILSON'S PHALAROPE - neither species commonly seen on farm ponds in Pennsylvania.            

Some birders in Bucks County, Pennsylvania were lucky to hear, see & photograph a BICKNELL'S THRUSH in their driveway in May when the species was migrating north.
Where they nest, the BICKNELL'S THRUSH has been found lately in New Hampshire on Cannon Mountain, and at Mount Waumbek, Mount Madison, and on Mount Washington where it was heard from the auto road. 

Outside North America, a North American bird recently was a "first" for Iceland.
A TREE SWALLOW found there in May 2012 was the 383rd bird species that's been recorded in that island country in North Atlantic.
There was another species there in May that was also new to the cumulative Icelandic bird list: a SLATY-BACKED GULL.
To see the cumulative list of Iceland Birds, scroll down to the link on the right-side of the home-page of the Focus On Nature Tours website:
That list is interesting reading.

Most interesting news from Japan is that the very rare CRESTED IBIS is making a comeback. This spring, there were the first to have been born there in the wild since 1976.
The first chick was seen in the camera on April 22. It was the first of 3 chicks in a nest, on Sado Island, in the Sea of Japan.
The parents are a 3 year-old male and a 2 year-old female. Both were released from captivity in March 2011, among about 45 released CRESTED IBISES known to be alive today.

The CRESTED IBIS was once a common bird in Japan. Sadly, the last CRESTED IBIS born out of captivity in Japan died in 2003. It was on Sado Island that the last wild CRESTED IBISES in Japan lived.  
In recent years, rehabilitation efforts have been underway there. 78 CRESTED IBISES have been released in the wild since September 2008.

Focus On Nature Tours has been doing birding tours in Japan for about 20 years, with tours in the winter and the spring. Next year, our Spring 2013 tour will include a visit to Sado Island, and the CRESTED IBISES. That will be reflected soon in the FONT website.    

During recent decades, GRAY WHALES have been doing better, in the Pacific Ocean, with their population increasing.
Centuries ago, the GRAY WHALE occurred in the North Atlantic Ocean.
But it was hunted to extinction there in 17th or 18th Century.

Very surprisingly, this spring, a GRAY WHALE was spotted in the MEDITERRANEAN SEA, off Israel.
Maybe it came from Alaska, somehow through the "Northwest Passage" to the Atlantic instead of the Pacific.
On May 30, what was determined by photographs to be that same whale was seen in the western Mediterranean, off the coast of Spain near Barcelona.
A wayward whale, indeed!   

Armas Hill has presented the Birdline, originally from Philadelphia, on the phone and internet for decades (3), and on the radio in Delaware for years (10).

The Birdline & Natureline are affiliates of Focus On Nature Tours.


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