Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hurricane birds.

I have always been fascinated by "storm birds," pelagic species that get blown inland by hurricanes or tropical storms and end up in odd places, like Missouri or Indianapolis. There was a nice selection of pelagic birds in Kentucky and Tennessee last week, and there is currently a Royal Tern in Missouri. There have also been at least two Sooty Terns found in downstate Illinois, one dead bird near Nashville, and one live Sooty at Carlyle Lake. I couldn't drive down to try for the Sooty this weekend, but it was re-located by a few birders today. An active hurricane season, combined with the tendency of many herons/waders (especially juvenile birds) to wander after breeding, could make this an interesting summer in Illinois. Wood Stork, Black Skimmer, and Brown Pelican are just a few of the species that might be found.

Hurricane Emily, which is currently bearing down on Cozumel and the Yucatan, could pose problems for the endemic Cozumel Thrasher, which many folks thought had been wiped out (or nearly wiped out) after a hurricane a few years ago. Even if there is still a sustainable population of Cozumel Thrashers left on the island, their numbers are probably so low that another major storm like Emily could be disastrous. I birded Cozumel and the Yucatan last August, which is certainly not the best time to visit for birders. Found some interesting breeding species, but missed quite a few of the endemics. Maybe I'll post some of the more unusual sightings at a later date.

In the meantime, if anyone has new information about the current status of the Cozumel Thrasher or any other Cozumel endemics/near endemics, pre- and post-Emily, please feel free to contact me and I will post anything that seems relevant to a wider audience.

Postscript: As of the afternoon of July 18, the Sooty Tern was still being reported at Carlyle Lake. Let's see if Emily dumps any pelagic species into Texas.

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