Sandy Jarred Something Loose

As I mentioned in my blog post from 31 October big storms like Sandy are usually followed by a short period of extreme birding excitement. In fact, many unusual and out of place birds showed up all cross the northeast part of North America in the week following the storm. Perhaps the most unusual of these was a Pterodroma petrel found under a mailbox in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was taken to a animal rehab center but died shortly there after. Pterodroma petrels are notoriously difficult to identify in the field and apparently they are difficult to identify in the hand as there is still some question as to which species of petrel this is.

Unfortunately I was unable to get out and see any of the storm related rarities. Instead, I lived vicariously through the email posting of others. One strange thing that I noticed after Sandy was concerning, not a seabird, but Golden Eagles. Most of the hawk migration monitoring sites post their daily totals to the local list servers. After the storm most all of them experienced daily and seasonal all time record high numbers of Golden Eagles.

Below are the numbers from the monitoring sites in the mountains. The coastal and piedmont sites didn’t see an unusual change in Golden Eagle numbers. I have often wondered about the winter distribution of Golden Eagles on the east coast. We have a fair number of them pass through in migration, as shown below. However south of here, observations are few and far between. My guess is that they stay in the mountains spread out over a large geographic area where there are fewer birders in winter. Whatever they do in winter the numbers below are exciting to see!