Fall Bird Migration


(This 803rd Buffalo Sunday News column was first published on August 20, 2006.)


Among my most popular columns were those that listed approximate dates for spring bird migration. In response to a number of requests I offer now a similar listing for fall. These dates are based largely on the Buffalo Ornithological Society's "Seasonal Checklist of the Birds: The Niagara Frontier Region", a 2002 compilation by a committee headed by David Suggs.


As should be clear from the following listing, the fall migration is already well underway. I have always been amazed at how soon after nesting shorebirds, cuckoos, flycatchers and even tiny yellow warblers leave. Birds of the year have only been fledged for a few weeks when inbred instincts compel them and their parents to leave on flights of a thousand miles and more to the south.


Leaving Dates for Summer Residents:


Aug 1-10: Yellow-billed cuckoo.

Aug 11-20: Black-billed cuckoo, cliff swallow.

Aug 21-31: Alder flycatcher, willow flycatcher, bank swallow.

Sep 1-10: Great egret, least bittern, Eastern kingbird, great crested flycatcher, least flycatcher, yellow warbler.

Sep 11-20: Green heron, American bittern, sora, common moorhen, blue-gray gnatcatcher, warbling vireo.

Sep 21-30: Virginia rail, spotted sandpiper, Caspian tern, ruby-throated hummingbird, barn swallow, veery, red-eyed vireo, chestnut-sided warbler, ovenbird, hooded warbler, indigo bunting.

Oct 1-10: Osprey, chimney swift, Eastern wood pewee, marsh wren, wood thrush, American redstart, common yellowthroat, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak.

Oct 11-20: Blue-winged teal, Eastern phoebe, tree swallow, rough-winged swallow, purple martin, house wren, black-throated green warbler, Eastern towhee, savannah sparrow.

Oct 21-31: Wood duck, American bittern, great egret, pied-billed grebe, turkey vulture, common snipe, American woodcock, common tern, belted kingfisher, Northern flicker, brown thrasher, Eastern bluebird, swamp sparrow.

Nov 1-10: Northern harrier, common nighthawk, brown creeper, American robin, gray catbird, field sparrow.

Nov 11-20: Double-crested cormorant, pied-billed grebe, killdeer, hermit thrush, song sparrow.

Nov 21-30: Black-crowned night heron, chipping sparrow.

Dec 11-20: Hooded merganser, great blue heron, American coot.


Fall Migration Dates for birds passing though Western New York:


Tundra swan: Oct 20-Dec 15, brant: Oct 15-Nov 10, Northern shoveler: Sep 1-Nov 20, American wigeon: Oct 20-Nov 20, blue-winged teal: Jul 20-Oct 15, Northern pintail: Sep 1-Dec 10, green-winged teal: Sep 1-Nov 15, ring-necked duck: Sep 20-Dec 10, lesser scaup: Oct 1-Dec 10, surf scoter: Oct 20-Nov 20, common loon: Oct 15-Dec 15, red-throated loon: Nov 1-20, horned grebe: Oct 15-Dec 15, red-necked grebe: Oct 20-Nov 30, black-bellied plover: Aug 15-Oct 31, American golden-plover: Sep 1-Oct 20, semipalmated plover: July 20-Sep 20, greater yellowlegs: Aug 1-Oct 31, lesser yellowlegs: July 15-Sep 20, sanderling: Jul 15-Oct 15, semipalmated sandpiper: Jul 10-Sep 20, least sandpiper: Jul 10-Sep 10, pectoral sandpiper: Jul 20-Oct 20, dunlin: Oct 1-Nov 15, short-billed dowitcher: Jul 1-Aug 31, Swainson's thrush: Sep 1-Oct 10, American pipit: Sep 20-Nov 10, Nashville warbler: Sep 1-30, Tennessee warbler: Sep 1-20, black-throated blue warbler: Aug 20-Oct 10, bay-breasted warbler: Sep 1-20, black-and-white warbler: Aug 20-Sep 20, white-throated sparrow: Sep 10-Nov 20, white-crowned sparrow: Oct 1-Nov 15, rusty blackbird: Sep 20-Nov 15.


A Winter Robin


Arrival Dates for Winter Residents:


Oct 1-10: Gadwall, canvasback, redhead, pine siskin.

Oct 11-20: Greater scaup, white-winged scoter, bufflehead, common goldeneye, horned lark.

Oct 21-31: Long-tailed duck, common merganser, red-breasted merganser, ruddy duck, rough-legged hawk, American tree sparrow.

Nov 1-10: Snow bunting, lesser black-backed gull.

Nov 11-20: Snowy owl, Iceland gull, glaucous gull.

Dec 1-10: Little gull.


We also have birds that may be found here all year long:


Great blue heron, Canada goose, mallard, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, wild turkey, Bonaparte's gull, ring-billed gull, herring gull, great black-backed gull, rock dove, mourning dove, Eastern screech owl, great horned owl, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, blue jay, American crow, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, European starling, cedar waxwing, dark-eyed junco, Northern cardinal, house finch, American goldfinch and house sparrow. Less common: American black duck, ring-necked pheasant, ruffed grouse, pileated woodpecker, Carolina wren and Northern mockingbird.


None of these dates is set in stone. As the weather has moderated over the past half century, arrival and departure dates are being extended and more and more birds, like robins and bluebirds, overwinter.-- Gerry Rising