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  Fall Coastal Landbird Migration

Fall Migration 2006: (Excel spreadsheet) by Don Verser

Birding is most often an adventure to observe migration. But migration is not one-way, and most all spring migrants can also be found in the fall. Some landbirds such as Chuck-will's-widow, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Nashville Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Mourning Warbler and Canada Warbler are actually more common on the coast in the fall than in the spring. To fully appreciate the migration of landbirds, try birding the coast in the fall starting in August or even July!

In early July the Black-and-white Warbler reappears and is suddenly very common on the coast. For me, this marks the start of the fall landbird migration. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher appears on the coast in late July and quickly becomes abundant in the first week of August. It is also interesting how Least Flycatchers become common at the end of July. Louisiana Waterthrush is a very early migrant – the time to see it as a fall migrant is July and early August.

Empidonax flycatchers are especially common in August, so this is a good time to study this challenging group and attempt to learn their call notes. You may find that at times Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are abundant in the woods, and that Alder is more common than Willow.

Charts illustrating the occurrence of landbirds on the upper Texas coast can be created by opening the Fall Migration spreadsheet. This data illustrates that the following species are common at least at times in August: Chuck-will's-widow, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Canada Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Baltimore Oriole.

Other species that qualify as uncommon sometime in August include: Whip-poor-will, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, Prairie Warbler, American Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Lark Sparrow, and Blue Grosbeak. Not to be lost among the migrants are birds such as Orchard Oriole, Yellow-bellied Cuckoo, Painted Bunting, Great-crested Flycatcher, and apparently Gray Catbird, who all nest along the coast in the summer.

About the Spreadsheet: This spreadsheet presents data in graph form of censuses I conducted from 1995 through August 2006. The graphs are species-specific and allow for easy comparison of two species at a time. Bird abundance is reported as the number seen per 5 census hours with the data grouped in weekly divisions. The spreadsheet is divided into two pages, which are accessible via tabs at the bottom of each page. The first page has information about locations and how the data was recorded. The second page contains the graphs and comments on various species.

Species studied include the following:

Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Common Nighthawk
Chuck-will's Widow
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Empidonax sp.
Eastern Phoebe
Great-crested Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Winter Wren
Sedge Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Veery
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Virginia's Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Swainson's Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Morning Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Rufous-sided Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
LeConte's Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Painted Bunting
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole


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