North American Birds

VOLUME 68 NO2 2015

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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V O L U M E 6 8 ( 2 0 1 5 ) • N U M B E R 2 181 T h e c h a n g i n g s e a s o n s : W i n T e r o f o u r d i s c o n T e n T waterfowl (mostly diving ducks) on Lake Michigan but also appearing suddenly in many more sites scattered across the interior of the state's Lower Peninsula. Birders work- ing Lakes Ontario and Erie recorded a very similar pattern. At the same time, the inte- rior of Midwestern states that had seen very few grebes at all in January/February—such as Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio—were awash in reports, including many in the southern portions of the states. A single at St. Louis, Missouri 7-14 March fts this westerly March "wave" of grebes, as do a few reports of sin- gles even farther south. By late March, the Green River Lake, Kentucky 22 February). Our journal breaks the season at the end of February, with the close of meteorologi- cal winter—but what happened with the grebe exodus in March 2014? I have divided the records between January/February and March (Table 2) not to comport with our seasonal reporting scheme but to illustrate how fascinating and apparently complex this fight was. After just a trickle of six records in January/February in Michigan, for instance, the eBird map for the species begins to light up in early March, with grebes crowding into increasingly smaller ice-free areas with When we drill down into individual re- cords, we begin to see the pattern more clearly. In the western Great Lakes, and di- rectly south of them, there are few reports in any of our databases in early winter . One at Red Rock Reservoir, Iowa on 7 December was surely a lingering rare late-fall migrant, and likewise one on Cave Run in Rowan County, Kentucky 3 December. Farther east- ward, the Michigan records in January/Feb- ruary are very few but do contain three early (3, 5, 12) January dates that are a month be- fore the peak of the fight. Interestingly, in Tennessee, at about the same longitude, one on Gibson County Lake 1 January and another on Nickajack Lake 17 January were early outliers in the records from the continent's interior, and St. Joseph County, Indiana had a very rare single on 20 January, on the same longitude line. Elsewhere, very late (30-31) Janu- ary records were numerous, presaging the spike in numbers in early Febru - ary, but there are very few early or even mid-January records away from ocean coasts, where wintering birds typically appear by November or December. Could these early and mid-January westerly records represent the frst birds feeing the more westerly/north- erly big lakes, which began to freeze over at that time? (See below; the plot, and the ice, thicken.) Our regional editors were so over- run with reports of Red-necked Grebe in some regions that few attempted comprehensive summaries, some refer- ring readers to the marvelous eBird data output tools (maps, graphs, charts) to visualize the phenomenon. The fight timing in the Hudson-Delaware and Middle Atlantic regions was similar, suggesting an infux moving progres- sively southward, which "became a food" by mid-February, according to Frank Rohrbacher, Tom Reed, Bob Paxton, and Shai Mitra in the Hudson- Delaware region. Notable high counts in February included 17 at Fort Ar- mistead Park, Baltimore, Maryland 4 February; 17 on the Virginia coast 16 February; 19 on Keuka Lake, New York 20 February; 9 at Indian River Inlet, Delaware 22 February; and 12 on Lake Clarke, Pennsylvania 28 February. The frst dates of detection of inland birds in the Virginias, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York were similar to the spike in numbers on the coast (and to the detection of 5 on Table 2. Estimated numbers of Red-necked Grebes in selected states and provinces, March 2014 (away from ocean coasts unless otherwise noted). State/Province No. Date(s) Notes Ontario 180 1-31 Mar far above average Michigan 140 2-31 Mar mostly recorded as singles; group of 24 feeing increasing ice cover arrived 5 Mar at open water at Consumer's Energy Hot Ponds, Bay County Indiana 112 3-31 Mar highest count 21 at Turtle Creek Reservoir, Sullivan County 30 Mar, where 13 were noted 17 Mar (previous high count for the state was 3); previous total March through May high count was 14; the March through May total count in 2014 was 324 birds Illinois 27 3-31 Mar total count for March through May was 48; prior maximum for any season was 10 Ohio 185 1-31 Mar far higher count than either 1994 or 2003 Tennessee 395 5-31 Mar highest counts 45 at Boone Dam, Washington County 7 Mar and 125 at Piney Flats, Sullivan County 21 Mar Kentucky 190 5-31 Mar highest counts 23 at Green River Lake, Taylor County 13 Mar and 27 at Reservoir #4, Fayette County 16 Mar upstate New York 135 1-31 Mar does not include a single site count of 420 at Olcott Small Piers, Niagara County 31 Mar Vermont 4 10-14 Mar above average, early date Pennsylvania 290 1-31 Mar on par with Feb 1994 fight Virginia 380 1-31 Mar on par with Feb 1994 fight West Virginia 105 1-31 Mar highest count 20 at Millville on Shenandoah River 17 Mar Maryland 515 1-31 Mar highest count 40 at Myrtle Point Park 15 Mar New Jersey 225 1-31 Mar well above average Delaware 32 1-30 Mar most not on coast Georgia 5 19-31 Mar all singles inland District of Columbia 175 1-31 Mar highest count 25 at Hains Point 16 Mar South Carolina 11 5-15 Mar probably record high North Carolina 285 1-31 Mar highest count 37 at Lake Julian Park 5 Mar Alabama 2 20-26 Mar very rare species in state

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