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Bird Highlights to Watch for in July

Bird Highlights to Watch for in July

(Reprinted from the Summer 2023 issue of New Hampshire Bird Records)

Summer in the bird world is only two months long – June and July. It is the breeding season for most birds in New Hampshire, but by the end of July, southbound shorebirds start to appear. This begins the heart of the migration for adult shorebirds; the young will follow later in the fall. Here are some of the birding highlights to watch for in July.

  • Black-billed Cuckoo by Steve Mirick, 6-10-2023, Concord, NH.

    Watch and listen for both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos wherever there are caterpillar outbreaks, especially the Spongy Moth (formerly called Gypsy Moth). Cuckoos are one of the few species in New Hampshire that eats hairy caterpillars.

  • Hummingbird numbers increase at feeders as youngsters fledge and feed on their own.
  • Great Shearwaters, and sometimes Manx, Sooty, and Cory’s Shearwaters join the Wilson’s Storm-Petrels in offshore ocean waters. A whalewatch or fishing boat is the easiest way to see them.
  • Tennessee Warblers nest in northern New Hampshire and Canada but sometimes show up well to the south in early July.
  • Southbound shorebird migration starts in early July with the first species to arrive being Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Lesser Yellowlegs. They are most common on the coast, but Least Sandpipers and Solitary Sandpipers are common inland.
  • Watch for an influx of Bonaparte’s Gulls at the coast in late July, with adults arriving first. Check coves anywhere along the coast, especially the cove north of the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye and the Piscataqua River off Fort Constitution in New Castle.
  • Early landbird migrants such as Yellow Warblers start appearing in late July. Louisiana Waterthrush are gone by the end of the month.
  • The first Great Egrets appear inland in late July. This is post-breeding dispersal and birds can show up anywhere.
  • Most swallows finish nesting early and begin to stage in large flocks at ponds and lakes and along the coast.
  • Chimney Swifts start to gather in large flocks, often in cities and towns, roosting in large chimneys.

New Hampshire Bird Records is now available in digital format free to all NH Audubon members. (Not a member yet? Join here!) All members receive an email with a link to the current issue. Printed copies are available to members for an additional fee that covers the cost of printing and postage. Details are on the New Hampshire Bird Records website.