My least favorite time of year

The weather is warming, winter is nearly over...but the birding can be downright boring!

Let's take a quick walk through the local birding calendar: May speaks for itself. June is a prime rarity month (especially coastally). July and August are exciting shorebirding months. September and October combine passerines, raptors, and the later shorbs. November is another fantastic rarity month. December brings CBCs, and the first winter rarities are discovered, some of which spend the entire season. January and February can be spent scouring the gulls at the local landfill (I miss it already...). And then there's March/April....

Many of you will likely disagree with me on this, but my motivation to go birding takes a serious hit in March and early April. The rare gulls are thinning in number, winter finches disappear, and boreal rarities such as hawk-owls and gyrfalcons won't be found this late in the season.

There are some highlights though. Bonaparte's Gulls are arriving and should be forming larger flocks as the month progresses. They always bring the possibility of Black-headed, Little, or even Ross's Gull with them. And then we have the waterfowl migration, during which ponds and marshes are filled with several species including the Redheads and "Common" Teals recently seen in CT.

But as far as true rarities are concerned.....yawn :)


  1. What sorts of rarities do you get in June? I know June on LI is the time to head east and get rare terns and sometimes Old World shorebirds, but otherwise it's almost all breeders down here.

  2. Good question Brendan. June is dreadfully slow when compared to the madness that is May, so most people take a break from birding during that month. But the track record for rarities in June is quite impressive.

    Sandwich and Gull-billed Terns, each with only a handful of accepted records in CT, may appear in June. Wilson's Plover is another target, along with BN Stilt. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck has shown a recent June pattern. Arctic Terns, particularly first-summer birds, seem to 'peak' in the region in June. Mississippi Kite's best time includes early June, although we may now have a breeding population in New England! Like you said, Old World shorebirds are certainly possible, particularly Curlew Sand and Ruff. Fork-tailed Flycatcher seems possible anytime, June included.

    Possibly the most exciting facet of June vagrants are presumably failed breeders that sometimes wander their way to our area. Chestnut-collared Longspur is a fine example of this. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Yellow-headed Blackbird too.

    The southern breeders in that list are undoubtedly more common just across the sound on LI, some much more so (the southern terns and shorebirds are embarrassingly rare in CT).

    I'm probably forgetting a few species, but those are the ones that come to mind.

    June is definitely an underrated birding month. Most people are just so exhausted from their full-tilt May birding that they don't think much of June since the migration has largely ended.

  3. I'm not really what you would call a serious birder.I like hiking and just enjoying nature too.I definitely felt burned out after forcing myself to find 100 species in January. That's not much for some but it was enough for me. Anyway-it's hard to be fully engaged in something 100 prcent of the time-even something you really like.

  4. You're right Larry. Birding means different things to different people. Most folks generally could care less about finding rarities and much prefer the spectacle of migration (I could take either on any given day). When saying this is my least favorite time of year, I'm talking in regards to rarities. It is quite nice to see the returning early spring birds.


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