On Sunday April 22 the wind turned strongly from the west after being southerly for some time, which resulted in a rare "fallout" of birds in the process of migrating from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the northern Gulf Coast in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and beyond.
This translocation to the east gives Florida birders a glimpse of the spring birding riches as they are migrating from Central and South America to North America, including Canada.
The most spectacular bird sights included more rose-breasted grosbeaks than seen by anyone within memory, large numbers of brilliant red-orange male Baltimore orioles, orchard orioles, summer and scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings and catbirds. There were also warblers of many types. The trees most favored were those with fruit, including mulberries and strangler fig.
A healthy Baltimore oriole in a fig tree.
Birders wait all year to see something like this so they were excited.
On our way north for the summer, we encountered a lot more of the remarkable "fallout" of birds migrating north from Mexico to North America, but diverted to florida by westerly winds.
We saw many more Baltimore orioles, especially feeding in strangler fig trees. The grosbeaks and orioles had some close encounters in our yard water bath - not entirely friendly.
A new phenomenon found at Fort DeSoto near St. Petersburg was the presence of large flocks of unusual blue grosbeaks - truly amazing.
There were also large numbers of thrushes: Swainsons, veeries and wood thrushes plus a few rare gray cheeked.
My photos do not do full justice to the beauty of these birds.
William Dunson, Ph.d., professor emeritus of biology at Penn State University, splits time between Southwest Florida and his farm in Galax, Va. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.