The buzz on birding listservs is that the northeastern United States might be in for the best night flight of migrating birds in, well, a really, really, long time, tonight. Check out these excerpts from an email on the “Night Flight Calls” listserv:
We are in one of those situations in the northeast where connoisseurs of nocturnal bird migration are in an especially heightened physiological state. I know of no specific word for it, but it is when the anticipated flight is looking so huge that it affects your adrenal function days in advance. In tonight’s case it is not simply the next cold front passage, but potentially a movement of relatively large & perhaps historic proportions.
Here in deep interior northeastern US we haven’t had a significant nocturnal bird movement since the night of August 26-27. That’s 12 nights without a major flight. I looked back in my records of the last 20 years and there is no similar event. The longest comparable string of nights around this time of year without a significant nocturnal migration event is all the way back in 1992 when hurricane Andrew made landfall in Louisana and stalled out in the mid-Atlantic states…
…Everything I know suggests to me that tonight (and tomorrow night) look to be huge nocturnal flights across northeastern US. The spring is set as tight as for any early September night I’ve seen in the past 20 years. Theoretically there is an uncommonly large number of birds ready to fly, and we are in the time when peak numbers of neotropical migrants typically move across the region. Given that the numbers of night migrants in eastern North America are undoubtedly getting smaller annually due to increasing numbers of man-made fatality sources (windows, towers, etc) and habitat loss, this may well be the largest early September nocturnal migration event we have the opportunity to experience in the remainder of our lives. If you live in northeastern US or thereabouts, you might want to consider taking the next few nights and days off.