This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

Late August is a fine time to walk the ocean beach. Weather is growing mild; gulls jabber overhead; waves gently lap the sand. But look out to sea: if your eyes could take you beyond the horizon, you would see an astonishing scene. A vast migration is taking place. Offshore, over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, millions of seabirds are on the move. Most are heading south, migrating past the US coastlines in August and September. 

Fierce, predatory jaegers that nested on the Arctic tundra are flying south to winter on tropical oceans. Arctic Terns and skuas are departing on an epic journey, flying all the way to Antarctic waters. Shearwaters in the tens of millions leave northern oceans to nest in the Southern Hemisphere, many near New Zealand. Even puffins bid farewell to their shoreline nesting cliffs now, scattering widely across the open ocean for the winter.

Meanwhile, back on the beach with the warm August sand between our toes, we relax. We squint out into the distant blue. Above the glimmering sea, is that a single shearwater we see, tipping above the horizon? A straggler, maybe? And a clue to that immense migration taking place just beyond our sight.



Written by Bob Sundstrom

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Dominic Black

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Itha-ca, New York. Ring-Billed Gull 169780 recorded by Jay MacGowan; Arctic Tern 138232 recorded by Gerrit Vyn.
Surf sounds: Surf Small Detailed SFX #21; Surf Moderate SFX #23; and Surf Distant SFX #27 from Nature Essentials recorded by Gordon Hempton of 
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2015 Tune In to

August 2017    ID#   migration-20-2014-08-25  migration-20 

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