Friday, July 15, 2016
Fri-D: Shorebird Flocks
Shorebirding has much improved over the past few days here in Cape May, which is to be expected since July is an important month for southbound shorebird migration. This surprises some people, the business of "fall" migration in July (or even late June). Several mornings this week I've enjoyed watching shorebirds fly past or drop into the South Cape May Meadows, a.k.a. The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, arguably the best July birding spot in Cape May.
Shorebirds headed south in July are all adults, with, generally speaking, failed breeders coming earliest, then females (especially in species where the male parent gives the little care baby shorebirds need), then males, though these different groups overlap very broadly.
Important fact: all southbound shorebirds in July are adults in worn breeding plumage; we won't see the bright, neat juveniles until the very last days of the month, most not until August. This means if you have a shorebird and are using plumage features to aid identification, you don't have to age it right now: they're all adults (unless they are first year birds that didn't migrate all the way to the nesting grounds. Sigh. You can't say always or never when it comes to nature.)
But shorebirds are best identified by size, shape and behavior - see the caption above.
Posted by Don Freiday at 8:24 AM