Entrenched in the hot, muggy Midwestern summer, it is difficult to imagine that the fall migration is already underway. But, in fact, many shorebirds, having raised their young on the Arctic tundra, have been filtering through the Heartland for the past few weeks, headed for southern coasts.
The number and variety of these sandpipers and plovers will peak in late August to mid September but the first flocks move south by early-mid July. As most birders know, these long distance travellers are best found in flooded fields or on the mudflats that line our lakes and reservoirs; there they stop to rest and feed between legs of their long, biannual journey.
Due to their relatively small size and skittish nature, shorebirds are best viewed from a distance with binoculars or a spotting scope; at wetland preserves with graveled roadways, using your car as a blind permits a closer approach. One marvels at the stamina of these world travellers and, when viewing them in the shimmering heat, is reassured that cool, drier days are on the horizon.