The Very First Spring Overshoot


It’s a familiar enough phenomenon to most birders in temperate North America. Every spring, birds more typical of southern climes appear north, sometimes far north, of their usual breeding range. As if the frenzied impulseĀ of northward movement has simply become too much to control, warblers and rails and flycatchers just keep going, joining little flocks of residents or more expected migrants to startle and delight the human observer.

We call these birds “spring overshoots.”

It’s been happening forever, of course. But what I want to know is who first noticed it and who coined the term “spring overshoot.”

In 1892, Samuel N. Rhoads definedĀ such events with great precision, as

the annual over-stepping of faunal limits by many species belonging to a more southerly district, and their subsequent disappearance toward the end of the spring migration,

but he doesn’t use our modern term, and neither does he explicitly claim to be the first to notice it.

Some student of migration out there knows the answer. Fill us in.

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