North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 2016

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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Page 34 of 211

V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 345 T H E C H A N G I N G S E A S O N S : R E T R O S P E C T recorded in the "new" areas previously, if not with the frequency or in numbers now seen. So with most examples, we're not hit over the head with novelty so much as we become gradually accustomed to a few new additions to the avifauna in our areas. In the Northeast, Hooded, Prothonotary, and Pine Warblers are gradually expanding northward, as are Golden-winged and Blue- winged and Cape May Warblers farther west and Black-throated Gray Warblers even far- ther west. Still, most of these expansions are measured in just a few hundred kilometers and are overlooked by most birders except those who conduct field work for Breeding Bird Surveys or bird atlases. And we rarely think of new additions to our avifauna in a negative light, unless the species are not na- tive to the region. entific papers (and nearly 1 billion eBird entries) later, we know that it was neither. Most of the species undergoing relatively rapid changes in status and distribution are not especially flashy (Black-bellied Whis- tling-Duck, treated often in this column, is our favorite exception) or prized by birders and so don't necessarily attract attention or make news headlines, certainly not in the way that Polar Bears have come to sym- bolize the warming planet for billions of science-minded humans. Historically, most bird species' expansions are not explosive but slow and plodding; think of long-term northward expansions of Black Vulture (still a staple of most regional reports) and North- ern Cardinal in the Northeast, Blue Jay in the West, Red-shouldered Hawk in the far West. In many cases, such species had been distribution has changed, that to look back a mere twenty years in this column produc- es a sense of disorientation at times, if not disbelief. We would expect change, as we have throughout the twentieth century, but the degree and pace of change we have wit - nessed and documented in the past twenty years is arguably greater than in any com- parable period in the history of ornithology. Twenty years ago, "the Rise of the South" was a phrase used to flag to the northward shift in breeding, post-breeding, and vagrancy ranges for a wide variety of species, across the taxonomic spectrum (Brinkley 1997). The broad brushstroke was then controver- sial enough that the editor's desk received communications insisting this characteriza- tion was baseless or alarmist Twenty years, and many published sci- Figure 5. Akimiski Island, Nunavut seems an unusual location for White-winged Dove, such as this one that spent 1-10 (here 5) June 2015 there. But spring overshoots seem to reach ever-higher latitudes each year, so perhaps this bird should have been expected. Photograph by Walter Wehtje.

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