eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 52, No. 4
Western Field Ornithologists
A Novel Locality for the Observation of Thousands of Passerine Birds during Spring Migration in Los Angeles County, California
Ryan S. Terrill, Christine A. Dean, John Garrett, Daniel J. Maxwell, Lauren Hill, Andrew Farnsworth, Adriaan Dokter, and Morgan W. Tingley
ABSTRACT: Avian migration is a spectacular phenomenon, representing the annual movements of billions of birds globally. Because the greatest diversity and numbers of birds migrate at night, opportunities to observe active migration are rare. At a number of localities in North America, however, observers can quantify movements of many typically nocturnal migrants during daylight where they continue after dawn. Such locations have provided much information about species-specific phenology, status, and orientation during migration. Localities where morning flights of land birds can be observed are unevenly distributed, however, and are little reported along the Pacific coast. Here we describe a novel location for the observation of spectacular morning flights of nocturnal migrants during spring migration at Bear Divide, in the western San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County, California. In two years of informal surveys at the site, we have recorded at least one morning with an estimated ~13,500 individual birds passing. Our preliminary analyses suggest that the peak of a species’ migration at Bear Divide is correlated with the latitude of a species’ breeding, being later in the spring as that latitude increases. Our data from Bear Divide provide an independent perspective on migration as quantified by local radar. Further work at this locality may help inform our knowledge of migration phenology and population trends.