Though the die-offs continue (Mary Myers emailed to say she spotted another pile of 11 dead Razorbills on Cape Cod this week), it’s time for a bit of live bird news from all quarters. Georgia Graves, naturalist on St. Simons Island in Georgia, has spotted some banded piping plovers on the beach once again! Georgia also documented banded birds last winter as they arrived from parts north, and this year, it’s a new bird, sporting green and white bands and a green flag on its legs. The particular color combo mark this bird as one banded as an adult by a team from Virginia Tech in June 2012 on the Missouri River near Yankton, South Dakota. Last year’s banded bird hailed from Michigan, so St. Simons Island seems to draw migrants from a wide swath of the upper middle west.
A bit farther north, in North Carolina, Stan Rule reports the presence of Sandhill Cranes in the vicinity of his beach near Morehead City. Stan has seen them in the early morning commuting to their foraging grounds near the airport. Beautiful birds to lift your spirits in this unusually grim winter. Stan also relayed the strange story of a local hunter who shot a passing Atlantic Puffin, mistaking it for a duck. This struck me as rather far south for a Puffin to be flying around, and evidently, Puffins are indeed rare enough there not to be on the minds of hunters seeking other, fast-flying quarry. But Stan tells me that the old timers and watermen in the area have seen the birds occasionally throughout the years. This has been a strange winter for puffins, so I suppose nothing should really surprise me.