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Weather and Songbird Migration: Apr. 17, 2013
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Dear Journey North,

Well, the fallout I talked about last week happened, just not how I thought it would. After that cold front passed by the Gulf Coast, many birders went out in hopes of seeing lots of migrants. They were disappointed and puzzled when the fallout did not materialize. It actually took a couple of days for the fallout to happen (on April 14th, to be specific).

Spectacular Fallout
One birder in Grand Isle, LA reported 75 species in 1 hour, including 27 species of warblers! At Lafitte’s Cove on the Texas coast, 21 species of warblers were seen, along with over 20 Warbling Vireos. So why the delay? I am not sure, but a birder in Yucatan, Mexico, where many migrants leave from, reported thunderstorms down there. It is possible that the birds were delayed by the storms, so didn’t arrive along the Gulf Coast when the storms here were hitting. When they did finally arrive on the Gulf Coast, north winds were still strong enough that arrivals were forced to land in large numbers.

More New Species South and West
By the beginning of the week, winds had shifted to the south, allowing those birds to head north again. I had many new species at my study site: Hooded Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, House Wren, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Whew! Many migrants have really made it pretty far. Eastern Kingbirds, Black-and-white Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Gray Catbirds have made it to upstate New York. Tree Swallows have shown up in Vermont. A House Wren made it all the way to Maine!

Steady southerly winds have brought a large influx of migrants to the West as well. Birders in Arizona tallied the arrival of more Wilson's Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Townsend’s Warblers, Lucy’s Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Hooded Orioles, and Bullock’s Orioles. Birders in California were really jumping for joy as they saw even more species, including Orange-crowned, Wilson’s, Black-throated-gray, Yellow, Townsend’s, Nashville, and MacGillivray’s Warblers, Warbling Vireos, Cassin’s Vireos, Hammond’s Flycatchers, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Bullocks Orioles. Helped along by the southerly winds, more Wilson’s Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Vaux’s Swifts, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows made it up to Oregon.

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Photo: David Aborn
Dr. David Aborn
 
Scarlet Tanager
Photo: Laura Erickson
Scarlet Tanager
 
Bullock's Oriole
Photo: Wikipedia
Bullock's Oriole
Adult male Tennessee Warbler
Photo: Laura Erickson
Tennessee Warbler
Weather Map: The Outlook

So will the coming week be just as exciting? Maybe. The weather this week is very similar to last week:

Weather map 4/17/13
  • Another strong storm system is moving across the country. The storms and strong north winds, combined with the north winds and the fact that migration is in full swing, mean there could be another fallout. I again expect next week’s report will have big numbers from the Gulf Coast.
  • A strong storm system moving across the country. The storms and strong north winds, combined with the north winds and the fact that migration is in full swing mean there could be another fallout. I again expect next week’s report will have big numbers from the Gulf Coast. By the end of the week, people in the eastern US should see big numbers of migrants landing. Migrants that are around right now have about a day or two to do some flying before they get grounded again for several days. 

  • The tail end of the front is over the Southwest right now, so that big influx of migrants they have seen will stop for a couple of days until the winds shift again.

As exciting as all that sounds, we haven’t reached the peak yet, so your arms are going to get a good workout holding binoculars!

Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

 

Next update April 23
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