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Hurricane Sandy's Silver Lining: Unusual Birds In Fairfield County

Evening grosbeaks are among the more unusual bird species spotted in the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Evening grosbeaks are among the more unusual bird species spotted in the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Flickr user RDDjr

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Like everyone else, I’ve been struggling with power and Internet. But as a birder, the hurricane had a tiny silver lining. Amidst storm cleanup I’ve enjoyed getting a look at some unusual birds blown here by the storm.

Birds treat storms in one of three ways. On land they may simply hunker down on a tree limb and wait the worst of it out. Over water or in migration, a bird, especially an experienced adult, might try to head into the storm knowing it could get a push in the right direction. Other times, the bird will spread its wings and go wherever the winds are blowing. For bird watchers, that is when post-storm life gets interesting.

The past two weeks have brought some fine species to our shores that are rarely seen here. They’re being spotted in places such as Stamford Cove Park, Shippan Point, Fairfield’s Penn Reef and Bridgeport’s seawall.

While the hurricane brought seabirds, storms from the north have driven late flocks of migrating songbirds into our trees. Massive movements of grackles and flocks of mixed warblers such as magnolia, palm, yellow rumped and blackpoll are winging their way through. They are accompanied by even rarer northern visitors, such as evening grosbeaks and redpolls.

So if you’d like to forget about storm cleanup for a few hours, grab a pair of binoculars, a bird guidebook and the kids. Head to the Sound or even to your local park and start looking at the birds. I bet you will find several new species that you have never seen before. It’s the hurricane’s only reward.