Weather and Songbird Migration: Apr. 24, 2013
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Dear Journey North,

Well, there was another fallout this past week, and a picture is worth a thousand words. I've included an image from a NEXRAD weather radar in Galveston, Texas, on April 18 as the front I talked about approached the Texas coast. Click on the image (right) to see how it works. “Impressive” and “stupendous” are a couple of words birders used to describe what they saw in the resulting fallouts:

Stupendous Fallouts
At Sabine Woods, a Texas bird sanctuary, 24 species of warblers were seen, along with many thrushes, orioles and grosbeaks. When the front reached the Louisiana coast, birders reported large numbers of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Blue Grosbeaks, and Yellow-breasted Chats. Along the Alabama coast, 18 warbler species were seen, including the first Cape May Warblers of the spring. Indigo Buntings also arrived in big numbers.

That front was not especially strong, so after a few days, winds were southerly and birds were able to take off again. Over the weekend at my Tennessee study site, Wood Thrushes and Eastern Kingbirds arrived, and I banded my first Northern Waterthrushes and Gray-cheeked Thrush of the spring. I also heard a Golden-winged Warbler. Eastern Kingbirds also made it up to Illinois, along with Worm-eating warblers, Yellow Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, and Ovenbirds. In Indiana and Wisconsin, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Gray Catbirds arrived. Minnesota had an influx of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Orange-crowned Warblers, while Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have made it to Maine!

In the Great Plains, birders in Oklahoma were treated to Nashville Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, Least Flycatchers, Gray Catbirds, and Baltimore Orioles, while Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were able to make all the way to South Dakota!

Farther west, southerly winds have brought a steady stream of migrants up from the tropics. In Arizona, the first Yellow-breasted Chats have shown up, along with more Lazuli Buntings, McGillivray’s Warblers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks. Birders didn’t even have to venture out into the country to see migrants, as the greater Los Angeles, CA area witnessed over 200 Yellow-rumped Warblers coming through, along with smaller numbers of McGillivray’s Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, and Ash-throated Flycatchers. As in the eastern US, the favorable winds allowed migrants to make a lot of progress north, as evidenced by Swainson’s Thrushes, House Wrens, Western Kingbirds, and Bullock’s Orioles being seen in Oregon, and Western Kingbirds and Vuax’s Swifts arriving in Washington.

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Photo: David Aborn
Dr. David Aborn
Rose-breasted Grossbeak
Photo: Laura Erickson
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Nexrad image revealing migrating birds on April 18, 2013.
NEXRAD and Fallouts
Cape May Warbler
Photo: Laura Erickson
Cape May Warbler
Swainson's Thrush
Photo: Laura Erickson
Swainson's Thrush
Weather Map: The Outlook

So will we have three weeks in a row with fallouts? Take a look at this week’s weather map and see:

Weather map 4/17/13
  • Another front is moving across the country right now, but it is not bringing a lot of rain or northerly winds with it. It is enough to force birds to land, but I don’t think we will see the big numbers of the previous two weeks. Nonetheless, it will be worth getting out and seeing what does land!
  • Another front is dropping down from the northern Great Plains, and this front could affect migration later in the week or over the weekend. Right now, it does not look like it will have much in the way of north winds, but it is expected to bring a lot of rain. That front may have a better chance of grounding more birds. It is still a ways off, and weather can change quickly, so we will have to see what happens.

Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN


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