By Nathan Martineau
In winter, while we focus on the resident bird species in our area, we often forget about the tiny little warblers and other neotropical migrants that have just flown hundreds or thousands of miles to their Central and South American wintering grounds from their breeding grounds here in North America, and within a matter of months will be flying back north again...
Those Yellow Warblers I saw near my house in the spring--what are they doing now, and where are they staying for the winter? What about the Nashville Warbler that I saw in my garden late in October? How far south did it go after its day-long stop in the garden? I hope that it survived and that it did not head south too late. With any luck, it survived its perilous journey south and will again travel north in spring, surviving to reach its breeding grounds.
I have been lucky enough to observe a fallout of warblers and other migrant passerines at Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Ohio, where most of the exhausted birds were foraging in trees and shrubs high above ground level.
The following pictures of these incredible long-distance travelers completely out of habitat on open lawn, metal beams, windowsills, and sidewalks is a testament to how amazing these little birds really are. Almost every one of the migrants that drops down at Machias Seal Island (off the coast of Maine) survives to take flight again across the Atlantic Ocean, toward its breeding grounds. What a stunning example of the resilience of nature.
Enjoy the photos (all taken by Ralph Elridge, one of the MSI lightkeepers):
See more amazing photos of this spectacular fallout event here: http://www.pbase.com/lightrae/migrant_birds
About the author: Nathan Martineau is a 16 year-old birder from Lansing, Michigan. He's been birding since 2006. He was really intrigued by the fact that birds in his yard would eat out of his hand. Since then, he has hand-fed chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers. He loves the north woods of Michigan and the birds that breed there, including Ovenbird, Common Loon, Pileated Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, and Magnolia and Blackburnian warblers. He also loves swimming in Lake Superior. Nathan sings in the MSU Young Men's Chorus, plays the cello, enjoys art lessons and artwork, and working on his photography skills. He spent the summer doing volunteer work at the local nature center where he enjoyed pulling invasive species, helping plant a butterfly garden, leading kids on bird walks, and gathering bird data.