Thursday, March 3, 2011
FOY, for those of you who may not know, is an acronym in the birding and scientific world for Firs Of Year sightings of a specific species. For example...an FOY peep could be deciphered as the first returning, small, brown sandpiper (such as a Western or Least) in the Spring. Used mainly for neotropical migrants...it is an additional recordkeeping label that has a lot of value in these days of climate change and possibly altered migration times, bug emmergence and plant flowering dates.
Already, eventhough Spring has certainly not sprung, we have had a few FOY birds appearing on the Refuge...with several more due within the next few days and weeks. Already spotted have been killdeer, marsh wrens and Sandhill cranes...and although Tundra swans and Western meadowlarks can stay through the winter, larger numbers are returning from areas just south of us. In the imminent future we expect FOY sightings of White-faced ibis and American avocets.
Another sure sign that Spring can not be TOO far away, is that some of our local birds that did brave the winter, are setting up territories and nests. Song sparrows are declaring their favorite spots of bulrush, Red-winged blackbirds are having tiffs over stands of cattails, and Red-tailed hawks and Black-billed magpies are already building nests.
So, when you're out there on the Refuge, or birding in your area...see if you can notice not only what type and how many birds you see...but also, what they are up to! Several of them will surprise you with sure signs of Spring, and perhaps you'll get your first FOY!