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I think we need to distinguish between the long-distance migrants,
which winter in the tropics (including as far north as south Florida),
and the short- and medium- distance migrants that grace the rest of our
backyard feeders in winter.  The former group is much more obligatory
and its response to photoperiod much more programmed (therefore its
migration phenology less variable).  The latter group, which includes
at least our local populations of Baltimore Oriole, for e.g., sparrows
like Chipping, and even Yellow-rumped Warblers, is much more
facultative.  There is apparently some effect of this warm spell on
this latter group (like others in north Florida, my previously
ubiquitous backyard orioles here in south Georgia have also suddenly
seemed to "disappear").  Of course, they may just be more dispersed,
feeding more on natural foods and visiting feeders less; orioles do eat
insects, and insects may suddenly become available (away from feeders)
when the weather warms.  Or they may indeed have headed north... who
knows?  Whether this = migration is a semantic argument for this
facultative group.  Clearly their "migratory behavior" has been
affected in some way.

Brad Bergstrom
Valdosta, GA
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