A few years ago, while at Riverview Park in Vero Beach, I received a call from Dee asking me to bring her camera. She had just finished a Pokemon Go event and while walking back to the car, she saw a bird in a tree. It was a male American Redstart. Then she saw another and another and another.
When I arrived, we chased the flock from tree to tree, mostly staying in a small area by the parking lot. We saw a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, and, shown at the left from top to bottom: Yellow-throated Vireo (which was a lifer for Dee), Cape May Warbler, and American Redstart (female shown in the photo, but we saw many of both sexes).
Why were so many birds here is such a small area? Here's a clue - the date was September 30, a time when the first decent cold front of the season brings us a big wave of fall migrant songbirds. Migration is primarily motivated by food resources. Birds that nest north of us start to move south toward their wintering grounds when food begins to get scarce. Dee says she remembers as a child watching the birds getting scarce in the wintertime in Massachusetts and thinking how lucky they were to be able to escape the cold every year - in fact, she actually believed the cold weather is why they left Massachusetts. But, in reality, cold temperatures are generally only a secondary motivation for migration. Many birds are able to handle the cold just fine, if they can still find food. When bugs are scarce, water weeds are hidden under ice, or seeds are covered by snow, it’s time to go.
But why were they all at this spot? As shown in the photos here, there were some trees that still had fruit and flowers on them, which attract insects. By now, up north the insects are becoming scarce - some spend the winter hibernating underground or under leaf litter, some insects spend the winter as larvae, nymphs, or pupae waiting to emerge in the springtime. These birds were stopping over for much needed food to replenish their fat reserves as they paused on their way to points south.
Birding with David Simpson Nominated for Best Eco-Adventure
We are pleased and honored to announce that Birding with David Simpson has been nominated for Indian River Magazine's Best Eco-Adventure contest. If you have been out birding with us and enjoyed the trip, please go here (after November 3rd), click on Recreation, then Best Eco-Adventure, and vote for us. We are so happy and excited to be nominated and look forward to your continued support.
2020 Nature of Indian River County Calendar Now Available!
We have released our 2020 Nature of Indian River County 14-month calendar featuring Dee's photographs. You can buy yours at Ditch 13 Gallery and Gifts in Fellsmere, Riverside Coffee, Tea and Books in Sebastian, or click here to order online.
Birding with David Simpson Coming Events
- November 8, 2019: Birding Hotspots Tour. Meet at Ditch 13 Gallery and Gifts in Fellsmere (located on Broadway next to Marsh Landing) at 8:00 a.m. and carpool to a location to be determined, depending on where the birds are. Trip will last 3 hours and cost of trip is $15 per person.
- November 22, 2019: Birding Hotspots Tour. Meet at Ditch 13 Gallery and Gifts in Fellsmere (located on Broadway next to Marsh Landing) at 8:00 a.m. and carpool to a location to be determined, depending on where the birds are. Trip will last 3 hours and cost of trip is $15 per person.
Call or send an email if you would like to book private bird guiding, a speaking engagement or class.