Favorable Weather in the Coming Week

April 15, 2020 by Team Journey North

Peak spring migration is approaching in the southern latitudes of the US. The northern latitudes should see many new arrivals with favorable weather conditions coming up. Get your binoculars ready!

“Painted buntings have arrived!! I had two males on my feeder today — I was so mesmerized I didn’t go and get a camera straight away. Since getting out my camera only one at a time has been there.” Submission by Ruth (Saint Augustine, FL; 04/08/2020)

Dear Journey North Readers,

It has been a very active week for weather! The two systems I mentioned last week really restricted migration, but in between birds did some moving. Ovenbirds, Yellow Warblers, White-eyed Vireos, and Orchard Orioles were seen in New York. Tree Swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Louisiana Waterthrushes were able to make it to Vermont and New Hampshire. In Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan,Tree Swallows, gnatcatchers, Prairie Warblers, and Yellow-throated Warblers made their first appearances. Here in Chattanooga, I saw 2 Blue-winged Warblers on Saturday, along with my first Prairie Warbler, Ovenbird, and Summer Tanager. Red-eyed Vireos were more numerous than the previous week. Some of my colleagues from other parts of Tennessee also saw Blue-winged Warblers, as well as Wood Thrushes. On Saturday and Sunday, a very powerful cold front moved across the country. I expected to see lots of sightings from the Gulf coast, but not many people got outside. For those that did, the storms did force some birds to land. Things were blue in Louisiana, with lots of Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak sightings. Alabama was red, as Scarlet Tanagers and Summer Tanagers were numerous. There was not much activity reported in the western US; mostly Violet-green Swallows, Vaux’s Swifts, and Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Will this week be better? If you look at the weather map, you see it is dominated by high pressure. In the eastern US, those high pressure areas are very strong, providing north winds yesterday (Monday), today, and tomorrow. Birds will not be going anywhere for a few days. Out in the Great Plains and Rockies, birds are now on the back side of those high pressure areas. Migration should resume with clear skies and southerly winds. By the end of the week, the eastern US will have southerly winds after the high pressure areas have moved on, allowing for migration to continue. There is another high pressure area that has moved in off of the Pacific, bringing northerly winds (although not as strong as in the east) to the western and southwestern US. Birds in those areas will stay put for a day or two before being able to resume their migration.

Overall, the week looks pretty quiet weather-wise. People in the northern US should see a lot of new arrivals. In the southern US, the next two weeks should be the peak of spring migration. There will likely be good numbers of species that have already been seen, as well as some of the late season species such as Swainson’s Thrushes, Blackpoll Warblers, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Take care.

David Aborn

Chuck Henrikson’s Birding Report From UW-Madison Arboretum 

“More warbler species should be coming very soon.” Read Chuck’s birding report from the Arboretum.

An Uptick In Baltimore Oriole Sightings 

Baltimore Orioles are being reported as far north as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Some Journey North citizen scientists are noting early arrival.

From Eufaula, OK: Carolyn observed her first Baltimore Oriole of the year and said, “They are early this year. Last year it was April 17th before the first one arrived.” (04/08/2020)

From Lake Orion, MI: Daniel shared, “ [Baltimore] Oriole came to hummingbird feeder on the 14th. On the 15th we put up Oriole feeder and saw three birds on the feeder this morning.” (04/14/2020)

Barn Swallows and Loons Farther North

More sightings in Canada are being reported as Barn Swallows continue their northern trajectory.

From Edmonton, AB: Dee observed, “a flock of 15 + [Barn Swallows].” (04/10/2020)

From Fort Erie, ON: Don saw his first Barn Swallow of the year. “First pass through the barn this morning. 3 days later than last year. Over 200 swallows in total last summer with some nests with 3 broods.” (04/14/2020)

Loons are being spotted on lakes across the Midwest, Northeast, and southern Ontario.

From Nineveh, IN: Theresa noted a, “single loon on the lake right next to our boat. Warm and sunny (68) day in Indiana.” (04/04/2020)

Birds of all Sizes

The Journey North community is full of keen birders. From warblers in Texas to Herons in Massachusetts, Journey North citizen scientists are reporting a range of different species.

From Great Barrington, MA: Shep observed his, “First Great Blue [Heron] of the Season.” (04/11/2020)

From Spearman, TX: Gina spotted a, “Wilson’s Warbler in very cold conditions.” (04/13/2020)

Keep Reporting!

Peak migration is nearing – let us know what you are seeing! Go to the Journey North sightings page and under the ‘Select Species or Event‘ dropdown menu, select Oriole’, ‘Barn Swallow’, ‘Loon’, or ‘Red-Winged Blackbird’. If you are seeing other species not listed, select ‘All Other Signs of Spring’ under the dropdown menu.