Thursday, November 02, 2017

Good fall for LeConte's!

LeConte's Sparrow

Why do certain bird species show up in higher abundances some years versus others? We know of irruptions and why they occur for owls, finches, waxwings, etc., but there are also superflights when several northern species fly deep into the central and southern United States. But then there are other cases, like this fall's LeConte's Sparrow migration, which seems atypical to me.

When looking at recent LCSP eBird charts for the month of October, 2017 has been better than past years. Why? I suppose it could be that there are more eBirders than ever. Or maybe birders are getting better at finding these sneaky sparrows by looking for them in appropriate habitat. Perhaps how they're reported on social media forums increased their popularity.

Did they have an exceptional breeding season? Has habitat restoration played a role? Though I've been scouring Pheasant Branch Conservancy's prairies for nearly two decades, I only detected this species for the first time in 2012, then 2016, and even more individuals this fall. So, perhaps restoration efforts are making the prairie more attractive to these birds.

But there were also very strong west winds this fall, which may have pushed more of these sparrows our direction into higher concentrations. Naturally, the best explanation could be that all of the above reasons factor into this particular little migration mystery.

What ever the case may be, I'm just pleased to have LeConte's Sparrows at the prairie!

October 2017:

October 2015:

October 2013:

LeConte's Sparrow © 2017 Mike McDowell

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