As summer draws to a close at the Dry Tortugas National Park, several changes are happening in the bird world.
All but the very latest-fledging sooty terns and brown noddies have left Bush Key to head out over open ocean to their respective wintering grounds. You may see a stray young noddy still perching on the coaling dock ruins, but not for much longer.
The earliest of the fall migrants have begun to arrive, including shorebirds and passerines, such as ruddy turnstones, sanderlings, hooded warblers, prairie warblers, prothonotary warblers, American redstarts, ovenbirds, and even a stray common grackle.
One of the more exciting species to visit the park this summer was a trio of American flamingos that flew over the islands for an entire day at the end of July. They did not appear to land, but did continue to circle the park for several islands. This was quite exciting news for the park, as their appearance seems to be one of the first confirmed sightings of live individuals on record here.
With fall approaching, we can only keep our fingers crossed for a plentiful migration this year. For any birders planning on visiting the park this fall for migration, keep in mind that the once-permanent “bird fountain” of so many years past has still not been replaced in the parade ground, which could effect the success of migrating passerines and raptors that stop here. Feel free to contact the NPS with any questions about the status of the replacement fountain.
Enjoy and happy birding!