Ode to October

By Dana Ripper
Most ornithologists would definitely claim May as their favorite month, but I would like to vote for October. There is still a trickle of late passerine migration and an influx of waterfowl, the weather is perfect, and both birds and people are ready to slow down. In most years, there is still a feast of food available in Missouri for passage migrants and new arrivals in the form of late-seeding plants and still-abundant insects. Spring is lovely for the bird song and the colorful warblers, but stress levels are high as Royal 10-28
birds race to their breeding grounds, claim and defend territories, and go through the difficult process of raising young. In autumn, on the other hand, migrants can ride the fronts that push south without any compulsion to hurry. We who study birds can relish the later mornings and the arrival of our winter friends. White-throated Sparrows arrive singing, as do White-crowned Sparrows and eventually, that denizen of the far North, Harris’ Sparrow. Juncos arrive and start making their little Star Wars-like shooting sounds at each other. We start searching tree trunks for bark that moves – Brown Creepers. And amidst all of this, the whole landscape is going into a more restful mode.

Last night, we caught a feisty female Northern Saw-whet Owl thanks to the north winds that arrived, providing relief from the 80 degree days we had been having in central Missouri. This Owl was captured while we listened to the KC Royals’ decisive win over San Francisco in Game 6 of the World Series…when other than October could such a coincidence of events occur?

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