Massive Migration

White stork flock migrating over Israel, Sept 2007 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

19 August 2023

Fall migration is underway across the Northern Hemisphere. Some birds migrate alone or in small flocks that don’t attract much attention. Others gather in such massive flocks that they are hard to miss.

At pinch points along their migration routes from Europe to Africa, white storks (Ciconia ciconia) travel in very large flocks like the kettles of broad-winged hawks in North America. Two such pinch points are in the airspace over Israel, above, and at the Strait of Gibraltar.

In this short video white storks are about to cross the Straits from Spain to Morocco but hit a wall in the air — the levant wind blowing from the east — so they wheel back. They did not leave Spain that day.

In North America semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) migrate in massive numbers from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to the shores of South America.

Semi-palmated sandpipers on migration in Maine (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

At the Bay of Fundy the flocks can number in the hundreds of thousands in August and early September.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; tweets embedded)

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