I was in Duluth a couple of days ago, responding to an email alert that fog along Park Point had grounded migrant songbirds. Such an event is called a fallout, and this one was labeled "massive." So, I took the drive. Massive apparaently had moved. I hiked Park Point here and there for six hours. I saw birds, certainly, but never more than six at a time. I ran into an acquaintence who birded with me for a couple of hours. He was counting species seen. He hit 17 species of warlbers by mid-afternoon. Seventeen different species sounds pretty good. Except that only one species -- American Redstart -- was represented by more individuals that you could count on your fingers. The "massive" email reported that something more than two dozen warbler species had been seen on that special day. There was no mention of the number of individual birds seen. Probably, no one counted individuals. Someone should have. The number of species of songbirds is important, but total numbers in more indicative of the reality of bird populations. What we see today becomes the standard against which we measure what we see tomorrow. The meaning of massive is movable. It shrinks, and we have a disproportionate view of reality. I'd rather see, and I'd be more comfortable with, 50 individuals of one species than a handful each of 17 species. I wish I had seen massive. I hope I just got there a day late.
Here's a Philadelphia Vireo photographed that day. As far as I know, it's the only one I saw.