Birds To Look For in October:
Those who were able to Get Out and Bird in September were rewarded with looks at Common Ravens and Olive-sided Flycatchers in the north, white ibis and large flocks of congregating herons and egrets in the south, and warblers all up and down the state!
The warblers and (most) shorebirds may have departed for the season, but raptor migration is in full swing and wintering waterfowl are arriving daily. Great birds and great weather—there’s no excuse not to Get Out and Bird Delmarva in October!
In the yard and at the feeders:
The Winter Finch Forecast is in, and it looks like there are bumper cone crops in the north. This is great news for the winter finches, but sad news for us… it is unlikely that the birds will tear themselves away from an abundant food source just to put in an appearance at southern feeders. Check out the Winter Finch Forecast 2017-2018 by Ron
Fun fall arrivals include Hermit Thrush, Golden- and Ruby-crowned kinglets, and Fox and Savannah Sparrows. Other “interesting” sparrows may also turn up, so keep your eyes and ears alert! Our “regular” winter sparrows like Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows also begin to arrive in October.
Near the water:
Duck, duck, GOOSE! If you are a duck lover like I am, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Waterfowl start amassing on their wintering grounds this month. Early arrivals include Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Green-winged Teal arrive early in the month. Blue-winged Teal will also show up in October, but they don’t stick around all winter, so get out and enjoy them while they are here!
Snow Geese will arrive later in the month. Some waders and shorebirds will continue into the fall, so keep an eye out for godwits, avocets, and thousands of Dunlin! Most herons (and ibis and rails) will soon be departing, but Great Blue Herons and the occasional Great Egret will continue through the fall as long as open water and good fishing prevail.
In the air:
October is probably the best month overall for raptor migration, so stop by the Ashland or Cape Henlopen Hawk Watches to enjoy this spectacle and pick up some tips on identifying raptors in flight. Broad-winged Hawks will still be moving through early in the month, and Red-shouldered Hawk numbers will remain strong through October and peak in November. Hawks, falcons, and eagles all pass through on migration—you never know what will turn up! Golden Eagles, anyone?! Or maybe a Mississippi Kite? You won’t see them if you aren’t there!
The “Poor Sam Peabody” song announces the return of the White-throated Sparrow for the winter. While the winter finch forecast doesn’t look too exciting for us, some Red- breasted nuthatches could still come down to our area for the winter, so keep your ears alert for their “squeaky toy” call. And yes, love is already in the air…Eastern Screech-owls start renewing their pair bonds and re-establishing their territories in the fall. Listen for their soft “whinny” calls at night.
Lisa Smith, Executive Director at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research
Featured Image: Canada Warbler by Hank Davis