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Weather and Songbird Migration: Feb. 20, 2013
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Dear Journey North,

It has been an up-and-down winter here in Tennessee; one week will be cold, the next will be mild. However, signs of spring have been showing up early, as was predicted by Chattanooga Chuck, our local forecasting groundhog.

I heard the first robins, cardinals, and Song sparrows singing here at the end of January! The bluebirds have paired up and are busily checking out nest sites. Best of all, it won't be long before migrants start arriving from their wintering grounds in the tropics. Some Tree Swallows already are!

Weather and Migration
There are still a few weeks before things really get busy, so you have time to practice predicting migratory activity from looking at a weather map.

Be sure to read my tutorial on how to read a weather map and how weather affects bird migration so you can prepare for my reports this migration season.

 

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Photo: David Aborn
Dr. David Aborn
 
Tree Swallow
Photo: Laura Erickson
Tree Swallow
 
Male Cardinal
Photo: Randy Indish
Male Cardinal
Weather Map: This Week's Outlook
Let's use this week's weather map to practice our predictions:
Weather Map for February 19, 2013
  • A cold front recently moved across the country, and is bringing rain and colder temperatures to the eastern US. If migration had been full swing, migrants would have been slowed down and would have to land until the weather cleared. Those birds would get a couple of days to resume migration, but . . .
  • Another front is moving in from the Pacific, which will bring more rain towards the end of the week. While the winds behind that front are not supposed to be strong, the rain will again force birds to land. If the front was stronger and migrants were arriving from the tropics, storms and north winds would force birds to land in large numbers, creating what is known as a fallout. Bird watchers and researchers like to see fallouts because it means lots of birds, so you will see that such times should bring some exciting reports!

It won't be too much longer before migrants start arriving in bigger numbers, so strap on your binoculars and start practicing!

Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN


The next Weather and Songbird Migration Update will be posted on February 27, 2013.
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