Fall means lots of birds passing through our area as they leave their warm, food-rich northern breeding areas to spend their winters in warm, food-rich, southern climes. These movements have begun. I’ve written blog posts the past two Septembers about migration and how you can support birds as they make these incredibly exhausting and dangerous migrations (September 2020 and September 2021).
Interestingly, I’ve been seeing and hearing bird species around my home in Peterborough in recent weeks that don’t breed here. This is likely due to post-breeding dispersal, when the young are fledged and independent and are scouting over larger areas for food and suitable places to return to next spring.
Perhaps even more interestingly, I’ve also seen and heard a few species that aren’t here during the breeding season and that I associate more with fall migration than with late-summer dispersal. This feels early to me. I don’t know what’s up, but I suspect the apparent early onset of autumn-like cooling this year (despite the heat wave forecast for the first week of September!) may be a factor. I also can’t help but wonder if the multiple large forest fires in northern Ontario and Quebec haven’t displaced some birds who have been forced to move south earlier than usual. It will be interesting to see if we experience raptor and/or seed-eater irruptions this winter as a consequence of lost food resources farther north.