More species are present during the fall than any other season in Bermuda. Frontal weather systems moving off the East Coast of North America can bring a wealth of bird species and September/October are also peak hurricane months here. If the eye of a hurricane passes over the island, confused birds with no way of escaping the hurricane drop out of the sky – from egrets to tiny warblers.

Birding by Season Fall Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

During the autumn months, birds are migrating southwards from their breeding grounds in North America. Although Bermuda is 600 miles off the American coast, a quick look at the globe will show that it is on a direct line between regions of North and South America. Most migrants will have stored enough energy reserves for a long, direct flight – but weather is always unpredictable.

About 30 species of shorebird (wading birds) regularly visit our islands. As long as the level of water is not too high, Spittal Pond,Warwick Pond and Seymour’s Pond are excellent places to see them. On good days in September, more than 100 birds can be present – Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers being the most abundant. You will see many other species of sandpiper as well as yellowlegs, dowitchers and plovers. Not all shorebirds favour the margins of ponds – many prefer open grass fields and golf courses. Scan the grass verges at the airport and you will frequently see Killdeer, Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and Whimbrel. There’s always the chance of something rare, like an American Avocet or Baird’s Sandpiper.

Birding by Season Fall Killdeer

Killdeer                                                                                

The small vireos and warblers, of which over 40 species have been recorded, turn up all over the island, peaking in late September and October. Red-eyed Vireos and warblers such as Yellow, Nashville, Parula, Black-throated Green, Blackpoll and Prothonotary can often be seen feeding actively before continuing their journey south. They favour the casuarina trees in particular, so look regularly at stands of trees especially along the south shore and western end of the island. Other warblers, such as the creeper-like Black-and-white Warbler, Ovenbird, American Redstart Palm Warbler and Northern Waterthrush stay with us throughout the winter.

By late September, cuckoos, kingbirds, flycatchers, swifts, swallows, thrushes, orioles and tanagers join the throng. It is a delight and a challenge to observe as many of these incredible creatures as possible during their southward migration.

 

Birding by Season Fall Yellow billed Cuckoo   Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Material adapted from "A Birdwatching Guide to Bermuda" by Andrew Dobson, Arlequin Press 2002. 

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Acknowledgements:

Photos courtesy of Andrew Dobson, Paul Watson, Chris Burville, Ras Mykkal, Jennifer Gray, Rosalind Wingate, Rick Slaughter and others.

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The Bermuda Audubon Society
P.O. Box HM 1328
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Bermuda