12 September 2012

A Flight of Birds in the Night

One of the phenomena which has been noticed in connection with the cold and stormy weather of the past four weeks, says the Worcester spy, is the scarcity of some species of birds which usually make their appearance in numbers throughout the country from the 1st to 15th of this month. Although in the milder weather of the last month the early birds came thick and fast, passing on their way to the north, the tide of migration has apparently been stayed by the unfavorable weather, which has retarded as well the growth of vegetation in some ways. Many of our birds which may be seen here regularly in numbers on certain dates every season, have not appeared at all or but few have been seen. It is well known that flights of birds occur quite regularly in autumn before the storms, and in spring after them. It is also known that many birds in their migrations travel during the night, resting usually during the day. We were prepared on the rise of the mercury Saturday evening to note a flight of birds during the night and were not disappointed. The early hours of the evening passed without much having been heard of the birds, except now and then the chirp of a warbler of the noise of a small flock passing overhead. At 11 o'clock, however, bird calls began to resound high in the air and on all sides, and from 12 to 2 in the morning the multitudes of birds were heard passing overhead; some low, some so high that their notes came back like a faint echo in the darkness. Occasionally a flock of warblers or sparrows would pass, flying so low that the rustling of their wings could be heard. Now and then a flock of some small song birds passed high overhead, making a continuous musical ripple through the night. From the regions of the upper air, high above all, came back the tones of the plover and other shore birds, all tending toward the north. The notes of many such as the bobolink, tanager, Wilson's thrush, white-crowned sparrow, etc., were recognized, and during a walk Sunday morning these birds and many others were found in numbers. Those who wish to observe the small land birds now on their way to the north should be on alert, for in ten days from this time very few birds will be found here except our summer residents. This flight of birds, which is probably not local, may extend over the entire portion of the northern United States east of the Mississippi, or even further. Countless millions of birds are spreading through these states, returning from their wanderings in southern forests to their old homes in the north.

October 5, 1882. St. Paul Daily Globe 5(278): 6. The report is however, obviously about spring migration.