Calling all birders! Every year, thousands of birds make the journey north to raise their young and take advantage of the copious plant and animal life our state has to offer. This is commonly referred to as the “Spring Migration”. We’re currently experiencing the “Fall Migration” as birds travel back down south for the winter. During this time, the Turnagain Arm, which is part of the Pacific Flyway, becomes a popular pit stop for migrating birds and waterfowl during extreme high tides. Many of these high tide dates are just around the corner! The AWCC sits on the Turnagain Arm, making it a haven for our feathered friends and a perfect spot to view migratory birds at AWCC.
The highest tides in any given month occur around the “new moon” (no visible moon). For the upcoming autumn months, those dates are September 16th-22nd and October 15th-20th. In addition, around the “full moon,” there is higher water, though not as high as the “new moon” high tides. These dates in 2020 are October 1st-3rd. However, high water on AWCC property can occur on other dates depending upon weather.
A few of the birds you might see at AWCC include Trumpeter swans, Merlins, Mallard ducks, and plovers. We’ve yet to see (but fingers crossed) lesser sandhill cranes.
Whether you’re new to birding or are already part of the community, there are a number of tools to help you enjoy this hobby. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers two tools for bird identification and community science for bird nerds. Merlin is an app that aids in bird species identification and is great for using while bird viewing at AWCC. eBird is a website and app that collects community observations from around the world. You can submit your sightings with eBird for others to see and use in bird studies. The site’s various data fields give insight into birds that frequent a location on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. The data accessible on eBird includes notes, photos, videos, and even sound clips. This makes eBird an excellent resource for amateurs and professionals alike.
This past August alone, 7 visitors have posted in eBird regarding 33 different species they have observed. Some of these species are year-round residents while others are seasonal migrants. During last year’s fall migration period, August – November 2019, visitors observed a total of 34 bird species. The well-known trumpeter swan made their first appearance toward the end of August. Lesser Sandhill Cranes made their presence known in early September. A quick search of previous data shows that birdwatchers have reported a total of 105 species at AWCC since 2004. So Far in 2020, birdwatchers have reported 59 species; maybe you will report a species we have not yet seen here this year!
Birdwatchers can help keep track of this year’s migratory birds at AWCC by contributing to the Fall 2020 Migration Report. Simply join the eBird community and start sharing!