With the arrival of August it seems that summer is almost over, most birds have finished breeding, and cooler weather must be coming soon. But one of the surest signs of the approaching end of summer is the first arrival of migrating birds that breed in the far north. While on a bike ride to Byellsby Dam along the New River Trail in SW VA on July 26, I was surprised to see a solitary sandpiper feeding along a mud flat. It would appear that this bird has already bred in the far north and is now returning to its winter home in Central or South America.
It is always surprising to me that the breeding of these long distance migrants is so quick, and the distances traveled so great. Conditions in Canada must be very conducive to breeding to justify the dangers of migration to accomplish this rapid reproductive cycle. Yet how often do we fail to express our wonder at such amazing feats of avian athleticism and the remarkable evolutionary pathways that led to such migratory behavior?