Monday, October 14, 2013

Episode 183 (10-14-13): Last Bird Out

Click to listen to episode (2:54)


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 14, 2013.

This week, we drop in on a crowd of eager flyers, as their long-distance flights are being announced but no planes are taking off.  If this sounds like a huge airport headache instead of a water event, well, just have a listen for about 45 seconds.


You’ve been listening to the names and sounds of eight kinds of birds that spend summer in Virginia but migrate from the state in the fall.  October’s arrival means the departure of many birds that find food and nesting sites around Virginia’s inland or coastal waters.  Fall also brings one of the two yearly massive passages over the Chesapeake Bay and Delmarva Peninsula of migrating land-based birds, such as the Broad-winged Hawk, a forest-dwelling species.  The concentration of hawks, shorebirds, and other migrants along Virginia’s Eastern Shore makes it an important and popular location for monitoring bird migration.  For example, the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory maintains a migrant-counting platform in Kiptopeke State Park in Northampton County, and the annual Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival, headquartered in the Northampton County town of Cape Charles, celebrated its 21st anniversary in October 2013.  Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the pelican sound, to Lang Elliott for permission to use the other bird sounds, and to several Virginia Tech colleagues for calling out the bird names.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

[Except as noted below, all Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 10/14/13]

An observation station for the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory in Kiptopeke State Park, Northampton County, Virginia, October 7, 2007.  The chart listed the birds of prey counted during that year’s fall migration on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Immature Green Heron on a dock at Claytor Lake State Park, Pulaski County, Virginia, September 23, 2012.


The sound of pelicans was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Sound Clips” Web site, at (accessed 1/17/12; as of 10/14/13, not available due to federal government shutdown).

The sounds of Snowy Egret, Broad-winged Hawk, Green Heron, Osprey, Least Tern, Piping Plover, and Sora were taken from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott, whose work is available online at and the “Music of Nature” Web site,

Thanks to Eli Heilker, Sarah Karpanty, Kevin McGuire, and Tony Timpano for recording bird names.  Thanks to Dr. Karpanty also for her help in developing the idea for this episode.


Information on the 2013 Eastern Shore Birding Festival was taken from the event Web site, at, and the 10/9/13 “Outdoor Report” from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, online at

Information on the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory program was taken from the program’s Web site, at

Information on Virginia fall-migrating birds was taken from Life in the Chesapeake Bay-3rd Edition, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); *A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” Web site at; and the “Birds of North America Online” Web site from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists’ Union, online at (subscription required for this Web site).

For a Virginia Water Radio episode on spring bird migration and its connection to Virginia waters, please see “Warblers Announce Spring Bird Migration,” Episode 157, week of 4-15-13, online at

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