2015-04-09 / Nature

Springtime Piques Interest of Wildlife Enthusiasts

By Jack Kelly


A recently arrived Great Egret flies into the Gooseneck Cove salt marsh. (Photo by Jack Kelly) A recently arrived Great Egret flies into the Gooseneck Cove salt marsh. (Photo by Jack Kelly) Local birders and wildlife enthusiasts are preparing for another season of discover and observation with the advent of the spring migration cycle. Early arrivals including Piping Plovers, Osprey, American Oystercatchers, Great Egrets and other locally nesting species, have piqued the interests of many folks.

How birds navigate to their breeding grounds, sometimes within feet of where they were raised, is not well understood by scientists and biologists. It is believed that hormonal changes triggered by the changing length of days stimulates migratory behavior in most migrants. Birds use a variety of celestial bodies for assistance, such as the sun when migrating by day or the stars when migrating by night, to orient themselves in the proper direction. Some species are known to use the earth’s electromagnetic fields or polarized light as orientation aids. Other birds begin migrating with their parents and learn specific routes from them, but biologists believe that most migrants possess innate migratory skills.


Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. In the next four to seven weeks, billions of birds will be on the move throughout North America. These migrants will be enroute to various breeding and nesting grounds across the continental United States, throughout Canada and Alaska, and into the Arctic Circle. Locally, vast numbers of wintering waterfowl, seabirds, raptors, shorebirds and songbirds are preparing to move north to their own ancestral breeding grounds. Migratory birds exert vast amounts of energy during their journey, and they rely on the presence of food, favorable climate, southerly winds and updrafts to aid their travels. Aquidneck

Island, with its diverse habitats, offers food sources as well as safe shelter for resting migrants. This is an opportune time to begin or renew a personal relationship with the beauty and majesty of the natural world. Springtime offers one of the greatest shows on earth.

For more information on the upcoming migration cycle, visit the Audubon Society of Rhode Island at asri.org or normanbirdsanctuary.org. Bird identification data may be found at allaboutbirds.org, which also offers other pertinent avian information.

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