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Monday, August 21, 2006

Perseids and Parulas

Nights in Maine are great for watching the skies. After a day of workshops, we enjoyed exploring the galaxy--and more distant galaxies--under amazingly dark skies. I've lived in the city too long, and it was great to watch the Perseid meteor showers, scope out the moons of Jupiter, and look at the Andromeda galaxy, as well as other deep sky objects in Sagitarius.

We weren't the only ones watching the stars. Research has shown that many songbirds migrate at night and use the stars to help them navigate. While we were out looking at the stars, we could hear the flight calls of warblers going overhead. I'm still learning my flight calls, so hard to tell exactly which species were going over, but based on what we were seeing on the ground, maybe Black-throated Green Warblers, Northern Parulas, American Redstarts, and Magnolia Warblers.

The best resource for learning the flight calls of migrant birds is online at oldbird.org. Get the CD. Its amazing and will open up a whole new world of night time birding. Fall migration is underway, so get a copy now. For another great view of the migration taking place each night, see the radar summaries at woodcreeper.com. Then head outside, hopefully to a dark spot away from city lights, and enjoy the celestial views of the sky and amazing sounds of the birds streaming overhead.
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