A few weeks ago as I was dropping my son off at daycare in the morning, around 7:30 am, and we watched a ribbon of blackbird/grackle mix heading SW. His daycare is on North Stadium Blvd across from Columbia Ready Mix. They were coming from the NE and heading SW. I figured it was the same stream of birds that roost at the end of Dunbar Ln.
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The Silver Fork blackbird stream was active again Monday evening, even in the bitter cold (high of 0F here) and steady snow. From home, not far from the Silver Fork observations reported from Sunday, we started seeing pulses of birds passing
overhead going NE in mid-afternoon, and this became a steady flow by 4:30. We noticed that they were flying especially low, right at treetop level, and many landed in treetops briefly before continuing on. Perhaps resting given the especially harsh conditions?
I went outside after 5 pm to try and capture this, taking a 9 minute video of non-stop blackbird flow over our location. This stream was less dense than the major one we observed over Silver Fork on Sunday (and our sky view was narrower, between topography,
trees, and snow/clouds), but it was steady until near dusk. This matches our previous observation that the larger stream stayed along that valley but we saw lesser streams joining or paralleling it from the south (where we live). I reviewed my video (indoors,
once my fingers had thawed from holding the phone up for so long) and counted a very conservative 2600 birds passing in 9 minutes, at a rate that was ongoing for maybe an hour (unsure because it we didn't observe continuously all afternoon). This count is
rather low because the stream wavered back and forth across my viewpoint, such that I often could not see the birds in the video even though I knew they were there because I saw the constant flow naked-eye while filming (the phone camera just didn't pick them
up past a certain range, especially against the clouds, snow, and trees). This flow stayed steady until roughly 5:30.
Tuesday morning, I noticed blackbirds streaming back SW again over our place, this time in the welcome morning sun, but did not attempt to count.
Also, Edge asked whether our friend's observation near Sedalia could have been related to the Boone County roost. As noted in our Bluebird article, that stream was heading north across I-70 in the morning, the opposite pattern one would expect (if using the Boone County roost, they would have been heading SW in the morning and NE in the evening). So we interpreted that to mean that they were heading out to forage from a roost site somewhere south of I-70.
Joanna's eBird list: https://ebird.org/checklist/S81683420
Eric & Joanna Reuter
Boone County, MO
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