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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Streaming by

For at least the last week, as I've been getting ready to leave for work, I've noticed very large flocks of birds streaming by overhead.  These pictures don't really do them justice, but look for the small dark specks against the blue sky and gray and white clouds.

By the time I found my camera this morning, the largest flocks had gone by already.  But here are a few more images to document this phenomenon.  Today many of the birds were so high that it was difficult to see them at first.  (You can click on the pictures to enlarge them slightly.)

All told, there were thousands of birds.  Although it will be a challenge, if they're flying by tomorrow, I'll have to try to count.

Do you have any guesses yet about which species this might be?  I'll show two more photos of flocks high in the sky...and then two closer shots that may help you identify the species involved.

I know they're not great shots, but it's the best I could do this morning.

These are American Robins (Turdus migratorius), the largest North American thrush.

There are lots of questions surrounding these morning flights of robins.  Is there a communal roost somewhere to the west?  If so, how many birds are using it?  Is there a food source somewhere to the east?  (All of the birds were flying west to east.)  Did the cold temperatures cause large numbers of robins to gather in this area?  Have I missed seeing morning flights of robins here before?

It's impressive to see such large numbers of birds flying by.  Fun fact: In the early 1900s, an American Robin roost of 250,000 birds was documented in Arkansas.  Wow!

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