Saturday, September 22, 2012

Where should I go birding in October?

Birding in October is excellent in the Pacific Northwest. There may be a couple of storms, bringing the first heavy rains of the season, but the weather is generally moderate, now that the hot days of summer are over.

A few Neotropical migrants may remain into the first weeks of October. There may be a few juvenile Black-headed Grosbeaks still hanging out at your feeder. The last of the Violet-green and Barn Swallows are heading south. Flocks of chickadees may harbor some late warblers--even rarities.

This is the time of year to search among the Pectoral Sandpipers at the grassy edges of your local wetlands for a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper or other rare shorebird.

The last of the fall pelagic trips occur in October. This is the best time to head out on the ocean for South Polar Skuas and Flesh-footed Shearwaters.

October brings the arrival of numerous sparrows--Golden-crowned, Lincoln's, and Sooty Fox Sparrows, among others.

I've always wanted to visit some hawk watches in the mountains. This is the perfect time, at least, early in the month before the weather turns bad in the mountains. Certain days may have hundreds of hawks streaming by: Sharp-shinned and Cooper's, Merlins, perhaps a Goshawk, Golden Eagle, or a rare Broad-winged Hawk.One such location is Bonney Butte near Mt Hood, east of Portland. Hawk Watch International counts raptors there. The public is welcome. You know, this just might be my year to visit!

Bird Festivals:

Bridger Raptor Festival
October 5-7, 2012
Bozemen, Montana

Birdfest & Bluegrass
October 13-14, 2012
Ridgefield, Washington