Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fall Migration: A Recap

Fall migration in the Laramie area was very busy this year. The fun kicked off as early as July, with the earliest migrants, shorebirds, started moving. The earliest shorebird migrants that show up in July are generally failed breeders. Shorebird migration peaks in mid to late August, but continues well into September and even October.

Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) - Albany Co. 
Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) - Albany Co.
Besides shorebirds, songbirds and other land birds made a good appearance as well.  Wilson's Warblers (Cardellina pusilla) were very this year, with smaller number of other warblers such as MacGillivray's (Geothlypis tolmiei), Orange-crowned (Oreothlypis celata), Townsend's (Setophaga townsendi), and Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia), and rarities including Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus), Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) and American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). Sparrow diversity was also impressive, with good numbers of White-crowned (Zonotrichia leucophrys), Lincoln's (Melospiza lincolnii), and Clay-colored Sparrows (Spizella pallida).  Hummingbirds, which start moving by late July, lingered into September, with especially good numbers of Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus), and smaller numbers of Broad-tailed (Selasphorus platycercus) and Calliope Hummingbirds (Selasphorus calliope).

Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla) - Albany Co.
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) - Albany Co.
Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) - Albany Co.
Laramie was also host to some more unusual birds this fall.  While not completely unexpected, two Lewis's Woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis) were found at the Greenhill Cemetery, while Williamson's Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) were found elsewhere in town.

Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) - Albany Co.
In late October and November, gulls and waterbirds started pushing through in good numbers. Lake Hattie and Hutton Lakes National Wildlife Refuge were particularly productive, with huge concentrations of waterfowl that included both Surf and White-winged Scoters. Gull highlights included Wyoming's second record ever of Little Gull at Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, several Sabine's Gulls, and a single Thayer's Gull at Lake Hattie.

Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus) - Albany Co.
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) - Albany Co.

Note: all photos in this post are © Shawn Billerman

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