Conservation // 5 min Read

Sounds of Neotropical Migrants

Written by Aaron Palmieri

Apr 14, 2020

Working from home sometimes results in sitting on the back porch and listening to birds while I work. “PIT-ti-tuck… Pit-ti-tuck… PIT-ti-tuck” is one of the newest calls to grace my backyard as the summer tanagers arrive in Beaufort County. Known as neotropical migrants, these are birds that spend the winter in tropical regions of the Americas, heading to the northern hemisphere during the spring. These migrants include buntings, tanagers, warblers, and flycatchers.

Listen to the Summer Tanager:

Near the beginning of March, the first neotropical migrant to show up is the northern parula. The buzzy “triIIpeep” of this warbler is a birder’s sign that the migration has begun. I personally memorize this song as an upside-down checkmark!

Listen to the Northern Parula:

However, the migrant that many people are excited to see is the vibrantly painted bunting. Arriving in mid-April, males perch on high branches to sing their whistling tune, hoping to project their voice far enough to attract a mate.

Listen to the Painted Bunting:

There are many species that end their northern migration around Beaufort County, but some birds only make a brief stop before heading farther north to places such as the Appalachians, New England, or Canada. Below is a list of commonly seen or heard neotropical migrants at the Bluff, and where you can find them, that I recommend learning to identify by sight or sound:

• Acadian Flycatcher – Moreland Point and Maritime Loop

• Barn Swallow – Duck Pond bridge, Inland Waterway, and Lake Bales

• Black-throated Blue Warbler – River Road Preserve

• Blue Grosbeak – Moreland Point

• Eastern Kingbird – can be seen throughout most of the property, typically near water

• Eastern Wood-pewee – can be heard throughout most of the property

• Great-crested Flycatcher – can be heard throughout most of the property

• Northern Parula – can be heard throughout most parts of the property

• Painted Bunting – River Road Preserve and the marsh trail to Moreland Landing

• Prairie Warbler – Pine-oak barrens and old pastures like the Long Leaf Pine Loop

• Red-eyed Vireo – shade trees in residential areas and River Road Preserve

• Summer Tanager – can be heard throughout many parts of the property

• Yellow Warbler – wetlands and forest edges

• Yellow-throated Vireo – areas with mature trees like the Sandhill Loop Nature Trail

• Yellow-throated Warbler – can be seen throughout most of the property