Kingbirds on the Move
Migration was certainly evident today in the Middle Keys, with ten warbler species making appearances within hardwood hammock and coastal habitats. But it was the Eastern Kingbirds that stole the show!
While I had noticed an influx of this flycatcher species over last weekend in Big Pine, it was not until I spent much of the afternoon today along Curry Hammock’s bay side that I saw flock after flock of them (6, 10, 12 at a time) heading SW, typically flying low just above tree tops. At some point around 2 pm, there seemed to be Eastern Kingbirds on every other wire and snag, much to the curiosity of the many Gray Kingbirds in the area.
Gray Kingbirds have also been seen in congregations – I counted 89 on visible perches while I drove from Islamorada to Big Pine a few days ago. However, many of these may have bred in the Keys – as they are known to do. They still seem very much preoccupied with their territories and neighbors. The Eastern Kingbird presumably does not nest in the Keys, but does in the Everglades. While we typically account for a decent number of Eastern Kingbirds every fall, our early start this year seems to be revealing that we have been arriving late for their show.
Other migrants today included several American Redstarts, Ovenbirds, Prairie Warblers and Worm-eating Warblers. Less numerous were Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, and Northern Parula. Singles were seen of Northern and Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Hooded Warbler.
Today was a tremendous day of Barn Swallow movement – thousands. At midday, many Purple Martins were also coming through. And the swallow flights have been going strong for weeks.
While raptor migration is just beginning to unravel, an absolute highlight was seeing two Northern Harriers on the move at high altitudes. This is a species that tends to peak in October. Hopefully this will be a good fall for them.