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With a Vireo, a Petrel, other birds, and a Supernova

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


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

The Birdline for September 9, 2011 :

The YELLOW-GREEN VIREO is similar to the common RED-EYED VIREO but it breeds in Central America, occurring there normally from February to September.
From September to February, it occurs normally in South America.
On September 5, 2011, a YELLOW-GREEN VIREO was banded in North America, in Massachusetts at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island.
That was a first for North America north of Florida.
Previously, YELLOW-GREEN VIREOS have been found in North America rarely along coastal California in the fall and in south Texas in the summer, and more rarely along the upper US Gulf Coast in the spring.

On the opposite side of North America, a seabird of the Southern Hemisphere, the GREAT-WINGED PETREL was seen on August 26, 2011 during a pelagic trip off Monterey, California.
That was the 4th known occurrence of the species off the North American coast, or anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.
The bird was the subspecies GOULDI, with a whiter face.

Back in 1925, the naturalist and writer Edward Howe Forbush wrote that "The COMMON NIGHTHAWK is a wonderful bird. It flies at any hour of the day or night, apparently able to see and catch flying insects in bright sunlight or in the dark."
The COMMON NIGHTHAWK wanders in migration from the edge of the Arctic to south of the Amazon. 
9 subspecies are in South America during the North American winter.
Mostly in May, NIGHTHAWKS come from the south, and arrive, among other places, in New England, where, again quoting Forbush, "In mating the courtship is mostly an aerial performance. The male rises to a considerable height and then falls swiftly, head first, with wings partly closed, until near the earth, when spreading his wings, he turns upward, producing with his vibrating primaries, a resounding boom that may be heard a considerable distance away."
The sound of the NIGHTHAWK most often heard, in areas where they breed, is a nasal "peent", when the bird is high in the sky in flight.
That sound has not been heard, during recent years, in the skies above towns in New England and elsewhere, as much as it was, even a decade or two ago.

I read lately, to my surprise and disappointment, that data for the most recent Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas has shown that the COMMON NIGHTHAWK is now almost certainly extirpated as a breeding bird in that state.
The species has nested in towns and cities around the state on flat, gravel roofs. It is said that now, with newer construction and renovations, there are not as many - flat, gravel roofs or nighthawks.
It is interesting that in 1925 Forbush wrote that "Breeding in cities is a comparatively recent custom and dates from the introduction of flat, tar-and-gravel roofs".
The bottom line: For the COMMON NIGHTHAWK, as a breeding bird in the Northeast US, it is certain that the recent trend is negative and dramatic. But it is not really known why.
If you know any definitive information in this regard, or of any reports of large numbers of nighthawks during their southbound August migration, please send an e-mail this way, to: armas@focusonnature.com
Almost 250 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were observed above the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the evening of August 29th.
About that same number were tallied above the Rock Creek Hills Park in Kensington, Maryland the evening of September 3rd.

A nice note: At the 25th annual New York Book Show, recently, the Second Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Maryland and DC took first place among reference books for book design. That's quite an achievement. Congrats are in order to all involved.

An item not included in the summary in the last Birdline of displaced birds in the Northeast US due to Hurricane Irene:
A dead SOOTY TERN was found in New Hampshire, in Stoddard, on September 2nd, a victim of the storm.

In Texas lately, especially in the south-central part of the state near Austin, one can not imagine the disruption to wildlife due to the extensive fires. It has been said to be over 45,000 acres. And of course, the horrific destruction for people, with over 1,000 homes lost.
For wildlife, this has been just part of a bigger picture involving so much heat and dryness, during a drought that has gone on for two long years.
If there's any definitive info known about the effects of that drought on birds and other wildlife, please let us know. 

In parts of the Northeast, especially in Pennsylvania and New York State lately, there has been the opposite situation - too much water.

In central Pennsylvania, this past week, as the weather has been going north, SHOREBIRDS have been dropping in as they go south.
In Cambria County PA, on September 8th, RUDDY TURNSTONE and SANDERLING were by a lake at the Prince Gallitzin State Park (where there have recently been 2 EARED GREBES).
In Centre County PA, that same day, RUDDY TURNSTONE and SANDERLINGS were by a lake at the Bald Eagle State Park (where there were also 4 species of TERNS).
The day before. in Centre County, there were 4 GOLDEN PLOVERS. That same day, over 20 GOLDEN PLOVERS were noted in Cumberland County, in central Pennsylvania.
In Lancaster County PA, on September 7th, at two locations, HUDSONIAN GODWITS dropped in, during their long migration, near Manheim, and at the Conjohela Flats along the Susquehanna River.

As this Birdline was being typed, a MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD was seen flying from Cape May, New Jersey, out over the Delaware Bay.  

A non-bird note:

Astronomically, now, there is a SUPERNOVA in the sky, the closest and brightest in decades. It is not bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, but it can nicely be seen on a clear night in a telescope or binoculars. It is in the handle of the Big Dipper.   

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

The Birdline is an affiliate of Focus On Nature Tours.

The long migration of the HUDSONIAN GODWIT, just referred to, takes them from the Arctic south to southern South America. About 75 per cent of them go to eastern Tierra del Fuego, not far to the south of where many RED KNOTS go. About the other 25 per cent of them go to Chiloe Island in southern Chile.

There will be a FONT (Focus On Nature) Tour in Chile, including Chiloe Island, November 11-20, 2011. There is a place or two still available on the tour. 
I remember during a previous tour there, on Chiloe Island, a mudflat covered with shorebirds, all of them HUDSONIAN GODWITS.

FONT tour info is elsewhere in the website: www.focusonnature.com
Also in the site, a List & Photo Gallery of North American Birds, in 6 Parts. With information, such as you read here, about the YELLOW-GREEN VIREO and GREAT-WINGED PETREL, but about all of the birds ever observed in North America. To visit, click the link at the top of this page.

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