Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Monday, November 19, 2012 - 8:34PM CST

Fall season blackbird, starling and grackle migration invasion

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HD VIDEO: November 2012 blackbird, starling and grackle migration

The fall 2012 southbound blackbird, starling and grackle migration has come and gone in the St. Louis region, and this year's event was very impressive. For about a week starting around the first of November, dozens of large flocks of birds in the tens to hundreds of thousands invaded the prairies, going to and from their nightly roosting location along Silver Creek south of Mascoutah, IL in the evenings and mornings. The video linked above and the images below tell the story of the scenes around New Baden on the late afternoon of November 5.

I had my first experience with this phenomenon in March of 2010, when these flocks made their northbound spring migration with birds numbering literally in the millions (you can see the images and video from that here). The spring and fall migrations since then have not been all that impressive, with much smaller flocks spread out over a longer period of time. I'm not sure what causes the massive migrations, but my theory is a sudden change in the weather from one extreme to the other causes all of the birds to migrate all at once. March 2010's migration happened during a rapid warmup following a long, brutally cold winter, while this one happened during a sudden settling-in of cold weather (lows in the 20s).

Whatever the cause, when these high-number, high-density flocks arrive, they are worth taking an afternoon to watch. I wish I had a way to see traveler's reactions on I-64 when these are flying over.

Click images for larger versions

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