July 27, 2008

Birds Are Already Thinking Winter

By Michael Pearce, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.

Jul. 27--With temperatures hovering around 100, winter may be the furthest thing from most human minds.

It's obviously on the mind of some shorebirds. Some have already begun their southward fall migration.

Jim Sellers, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge assistant manager, said more will be on the move shortly.

He's predicting a great gathering of everything from assorted sandpipers to phalaropes at the refuge.

"We're already picking up some migrating shorebirds, but we usually don't get a lot until the end of the first week of August," he said. "The real early ones are the ones that probably nested from here up into Nebraska and the Dakotas."

Species expected to show up at marshes like Quivira, Cheyenne Bottoms and the McPherson Valley Wetlands include piping plovers, some species of terns, yellowlegs, dowitchers, killdeer and solitary, stilt, semipalmated and least sandpipers.

Sellers said the combination of the wet spring and current warm, windy and dry days could also help speed the gathering of shorebirds.

"I think a lot of birds stopped (on the spring migrations), liked what they saw and stayed," he said. "Now they have their broods raised and those little wetlands are drying up and they're looking for water. I expect the next month to be really interesting for shorebirds."


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