Cleveland has seen it before and Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist say Hurricane Harvey could end up dropping southern water birds rarely seen in Cleveland around Lake Erie again.
When they say rare, they mean rare for this area.
For example in 2013 a rare Browns Pelican was spotted hanging out in marinas and docks in Cleveland. Rare because it was a species native to Louisiana possible brought here by Tropical Storm Andrew. "The Brown Pelican of 2013 was likely the result of a displaced bird from a tropical storm that had moved along North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in June 2013," explained Jen Brumfield with the Cleveland Metroparks.
Could it happen again with now that Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey have been raging for days in Texas? According to Brumfield, absolutely.
"These southern species of water birds can be pushed for hundreds to thousands of miles until they find proper wetlands and harbors to put down in. In the case of a hurricane, even strong flying and powerful birds like frigatebirds can get wrapped up in swirling winds and excessive rain," she said. "They can stay aloft in these powerful winds, either in the storm or ahead of it, for hundreds to thousands of miles. They look for large bodies of water to drop down to."
Brumfield specifically sites four types of birds that could end up in Cleveland.
"The most likely rare birds that may turn up on Lake Erie because of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey are Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Tricolored Heron, Glossy Ibis," she said.
There are many bird watching enthusiasts in the area who are in contact with each other and the Metroparks who will be on the lookout in the coming days for rare bird to show up.
Based on past sightings they even know where to look.
"In this case, the Great Lakes then resemble oceanfront. Our harbors and marinas look very similar to those along the gulf and the coast," said Brumfield. "Tired from riding the winds they will drop from hundreds to thousands of feet in the air to rest and refuel in proper habitat. One of the most prime locations for rare birds in the state of Ohio is Edgewater Park to Wendy park, the lakefront habitat that spans from these parks offers lakefront woodlots, beach, marinas, and the surrounding greater Cleveland harbor break walls and lighthouses."
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