Birds let heat escape from their bodies by resting with their bills open, especially those with dark feathers that absorb sunlight, like crows and this American Robin. Text and Photo by John J. Galluzzo
What’s Been Seen: There’s a rule scientists live by: absence of data is still data. That means that if, with consistent effort each day, some data is reported on some days and no data is reported on one day, that swing and a miss still means something.
In other words, if we see Herring Gulls on Nantasket Beach for 29 straight days, but not on the 30th, that lack of any sighting is still noteworthy. But, there is one catch. If the effort is not consistent – if there are no bird sightings because nobody went birding – then that absence doesn’t count. We know that there have been birds seen around Hull in July, but we also know that it’s been close to 90 degrees for a month. Many birds are generally not active during the hottest hours of the day, and many humans have been avoiding the heat and humidity, rightly.
This is all a long way of saying that not much was recorded in the way of sightings in July 2022. Mute Swans massed in Straits Pond early in the month, with one birder counting 42 of them on June 28. Twenty-nine different species were sighted on the Weir River on July 17, including our local Purple Martin colony and a vanishing bird, the American Kestrel. Other than that, the nearest birds sighted and reported were at World’s End and on Bumpkin Island. But, make no mistake, they were here, the gulls, cormorants, eiders, shorebirds, and songbirds of many types.
What to Expect: They will be here during the month of August as well, as southern migration begins in earnest. The stress of the summer heat will show early. Food is scarce as growing conditions for the berries and seeds many species need have been less than optimum. The birds will start to gather in flocks as European Starlings, Tree Swallows, and others will band together under their own rule: if one finds food, they all find food.
Watch the rocks on the bay for movement as more than two dozen species of shorebirds begin their move southward. Baltimore Orioles and mother Ospreys will be gone before month’s end and come Sept. 1st, many more songbirds will start their journeys.