Spring Officially Arrives Tomorrow!

March 18, 2020 by Team Journey North

The spring equinox is tomorrow night and although rainy weather is slowing migration, more species continue to arrive.

This stunning, aptly-named Hooded Warbler winters in eastern Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In spring, it migrates to and nests in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada.

Dear Journey North Readers,

Rain, rain, go away! As I reported last week, there was a cold front that was going to stall across the Southern US, and that is exactly has happened. There has been rain on and off all week in most of the South. The rain has kept migration to a minimum, but a few birds have managed to trickle in. From Florida and into Texas, birders have been reporting arrivals of Yellow-throated Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow-throated Vireos, and Northern Parulas. Just to keep things from getting too monotonous, a Hooded Warbler was seen in Louisiana. Louisiana Waterthrushes have arrived in Georgia and here in Tennessee. There have been enough breaks in the rain to allow some of the Purple Martins and Tree Swallows to get as far as Missouri.

Out west, the weather has been better, so there was more migration taking place. The first Lucy’s Warblers, Bullock’s Orioles, and Rufus Hummingbirds are being seen in Arizona. The first Bell’s Vireos, Cassin’s Vireos, and Hooded Orioles are arriving in California. Birders have seen Rufous Hummingbirds as far north as Oregon.

Does this week look any better? Well, not for a few more days. You can see on the weather map, that the stubborn front is still draped across the South, and it isn’t going anywhere for a while which means migrating birds will still be stuck there. People in the Midwest and Northeast will not be seeing many birds. The Southwest is still clear and dry, so they should still have a steady stream of migrants coming through. If you look at California, you will see a cold front coming in off of the Pacific Ocean, which will bring rain to the Southwest. That front is what is FINALLY going to push the stalled front out of the way. After it passes, all those birds stuck in the southern half of the country will have an opportunity to take off again. Places like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama should clear out by the end of the week, and the Southeastern US should see good weather (and good migration!) by the weekend.

I know times are unusual now, and our lives have been disrupted, but we can be comforted by knowing there are still some constants…like migration! If you cannot get out to your local parks to go birding, you can still bird from your yard. If you have not already done so, put out some feeders and watch all the birds that come to them. If you cannot put out your own feeders, go to All About Birds; there you will find many cameras that have been set up at nests and feeders, and they can be fascinating to watch!

Take care.

David Aborn

Weather Resource

Check out https://www.windy.com/ to explore a live, interactive global weather map. This great resource provides detailed current and future weather information so you can stay up to speed on when migratory songbirds may be arriving.

Report Your Sightings

Did you know that you can submit your sightings for Barn Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Loons and Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles? Go to the Journey North sightings page and under the ‘Select Species or Event‘ dropdown menu, select ’Barn Swallow’‘Red-Winged Blackbird’  ‘Loon, or Oriole’. If you are seeing other songbirds or species not listed, select ‘All Other Signs of Spring’ under the dropdown menu.

From Austin, TX: Jennifer noted a, “couple [Barn Swallows] settled. Others flying around the neighborhood.” (03/04/2020)

From Mckinney, TX: Jill said, “1 barn swallow observed (first of the season!) checking out horse barn, where barn swallows have been returning and successfully nesting for almost 30 years now! Can’t wait to hear them in groups this spring, love that sound!” (03/16/2020)

From Ringgold, LA: Thomas, “Observed 2 swallows flying around catching bugs & sharing the air with my neighbors Purple Martins. Time observed: around 6:00 P.M.” (03/11/2020)

From Seguin, ON: Lynda noted, “Red Winged Blackbird came to our feeder this morning. Stayed awhile then flew off.” (03/11/2020).

From Elk Grove Village, IL: Dawn observed a, “pair of loons along with many mergansers and lots of other waterfowl enjoying a beautiful spring day.” (03/08/2020)