In late October as many human “snowbirds” return to Florida from their northern summer retreats, a massive movement of birds also occurs, often without much notice from people other than bird watchers. This is the seasonal shift of millions of neotropical migrants moving from their summer breeding areas in northern and eastern North America to the tropics and sub-tropics.
The birds fly south to the Yucatan from the northern Gulf coast heading to their winter territories in Central and South America. This year, there has been a huge “fallout” of gorgeous birds in our area, possibly due to the westerly winds of Tropical Storm Nestor, which made landfall Oct. 18. They can be diverted to the east by such a strong storm and end up in Florida. They are undoubtedly in need of rest and require water, food and cover.
Our yard on Manasota Key provides all of these and has attracted an amazing display of birds. Two public places where you can see these birds are Kiwanis Park in Port Charlotte and Pinecraft Park in Sarasota.
The phenomenon of long-distance migration between continents to obtain the most favorable seasonal conditions for breeding is one of the most astonishing circumstances in nature. Many of “our” beloved birds actually spend more time elsewhere! Those of us who are bird watchers have been in hog heaven during this fall fallout and will now be impatiently waiting many months for spring migration.
Bill Dunson is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University, thanks to a career spent entirely at that institution, teaching and doing research. Always curious about nature, Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. Contact him at WDunson@comcast.net.