Here Come the Songbirds
I don't know about you, but I look forward to return of the songbirds every year. Their spring migration coincides with the return of color in the landscape and an increase in the diversity of sounds in nature's orchestra. The whole worlds seems to come alive again including our human communities.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to go down to Dauphin Island, Alabama in April, just as the first songbirds were making their way to land after traveling for days across the Gulf of Mexico. I had just watched the movie, The Big Year, and my best friend, whom I was traveling with, is a lifelong birder, so I had heard of a phenomenon called, Fall out, but never expected to experience it.
Fall out is when thousands of birds land in the same place at the same time and it seems like they are just falling out of the sky. This usually happens when a big storm hits the gulf at the same time as spring migration. Birds push themselves to get to the first bit of land, usually islands off the coast, before it hits. They are exhausted and need to find food and shelter quickly.
This happened on a small scale when I was on Dauphin Island. Some thunderstorms on the Gulf pushed the first wave of migrants towards land. I was in a forest surrounded by brilliant, moving colors - yellows, blues, reds, browns, and even oranges. My friend and I observed a Northern Waterthrush and a Louisiana Waterthrush side by side allowing us to compare them. Though these birds do not breed near each other. The sounds were almost deafening and diversified in pitch, rythym, and duration. It was a feast for the senses.
For most of those birds, Dauphin Island was just their first stop in North America. Imagine everything a songbird has been through by the time it makes it to New England! And some of them keep going up into Canada. And they make these long journeys twice a year for many, many years. Amazing!