Weather and Songbirds Update

March 6, 2019 by Dr. David Aborn

"Not good flying weather!"

A flock of 100 or more Cedar Waxwings were observed by Lorraine in Savanna, GA (03/05/2019)

Weather and Migration: March 6, 2019

Dear Journey North members,

Well, it certainly doesn’t feel like spring is approaching! That cold front I mentioned last week has brought very cold temperatures, storms, and strong north winds to much of the country; not good flying weather! Nonetheless, a few of the early migrants are starting to arrive. Purple Martins made their first appearance in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, and the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season showed up in Texas. A couple of Louisiana Waterthrushes (very appropriate for Mardi Gras!) were seen here in Tennessee. I did not receive any reports of migrants from out west, but they should start to see them soon.

So will this week be any better for migration?

Let’s look at the map. The high pressure in the eastern US is starting to move off the coast. That means that by tomorrow the wind will shift to the south, allowing birds that are already here to continue north, and it will allow new birds to arrive from the tropics. A second high pressure area will still bring north winds over the Great Plains, but the winds should shift in another couple of days, so they may see their first migrants this week. Out west, they are seeing good flying conditions, but that is about to change. There is a storm system moving in off of the Pacific Ocean, and the rainy weather will keep birds grounded and prevent new birds from arriving. As that system moves east, migrants in the middle of the country will experience the same thing later in the week, and migration will be hampered in the east by the weekend. By that time, conditions in the west and Midwest will have improved, and migration will have resumed.

Expecting to see large numbers? 

I am still not expecting to see large numbers of birds arriving, but there should definitely be an increase in sightings. Hopefully you can get out and see the start of spring migration, and get a taste of things to come!

Take care.

Dr. David Aborn, Ornithologist

North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy

Chattanooga, TN