Wonderful Warblers

May 13, 2020 by Team Journey North

Warbler diversity is on full display as migration peaks in the northern half of the US and begins to slow in the southern half.

“This Cape May Warbler showed up on Mother’s Day. Around 10am. My first Cape May Warbler sighting ever.” Submission by: Elizabeth (Branch, MI; 5/10/2020)

Dear Journey North Readers,

Spring migration is starting to wind down, but it is not quite over. After a cold snap in the eastern US last week, winds are shifting to the south, allowing one last wave of migratory birds to arrive from the tropics. Birds that were grounded by the north winds will be able to continue northward. A lot of the new arrivals from the tropics made their way into Alabama, where 65 Eastern Kingbirds were seen at the Birmingham Airport, along with many Blackburnian Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Bay-breasted Warblers, and Tennessee Warblers. Up in New York state, birders saw as many as 12 warblers species at one time, along with many Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Gray Catbirds. Maine had another influx of orioles, Ovenbirds, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Bay-breasted Warblers. The Midwest had a lot of activity as well, with 16 warbler species being seen throughout Illinois, and Summer Tanagers and Bay-breasted Warblers making it up to Minnesota.

Good flying weather out west made for some good birding. In Wyoming and Idaho, there were many reports of Bullock’s Orioles, Lazuli Buntings, Orange-crowned Warblers, Western Tanagers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks. Varied Thrushes arrived all the way up in Alaska!

How will spring migration end? Recall that last week the east was cold and the west was hot, but this week it will be just the opposite. If you look at the weather map, there is a big area of high pressure dominating the eastern US. This system will be bringing southerly winds and generally clear skies. There is a patch of rain over Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, but it is not too heavy, and will not impact migration too much. Everywhere east of the Mississippi River should see a lot of migration for most of the week. In contrast, a storm system is moving through the western US, with another system following in the Pacific. As a result, there will not be a lot of migration taking place in the western US for a good part of the week.

For people in the southern half of the country migration is nearing its end, but in the northern half it is peaking. We’ll see if Mother Nature can squeeze out a few more surprises! Take care.

David Aborn

Chuck Henrikson’s Birding Report From UW–Madison Arboretum

“Everyone is finding more warblers in the Arboretum and other sites in Dane County. My list is now up to 19 warbler species. Last week I mentioned that in 2019 there were 30 warblers species found in the Arboretum so I’m still trying to find 11 more to match last year’s numbers.” Read Chuck’s latest birding report from the Arboretum.

Baltimore Orioles Still Arriving

The recent cold spell that brought snow to parts of the Midwest and eastern US did not appear to slow down Baltimore Oriole migration.

From Camillus, NY: Ginny shared, “so happy to see the oriole come today. The wind is blowing and it’s snowing!” (05/09/2020)

From Tay, ON: Jim noted, “first Baltimore Oriole sighting this Spring in Victoria Harbour during a snow storm we were having at the time.” (05/09/2020)

Farther west, Bullock’s Orioles continue to stop by backyard feeders. The northernmost sighting has come from Emmett, Idaho.

From Emmett, ID: Robert, “saw a couple [Bullock’s Orioles], one male and one female.” (04/28/2020)

From Morrison, CO:  Maryanne shared, “I have a feeder up; he had visited it and then went to this nearby tree when I got the picture.” (05/08/2020)

From Casper, WY: Morgan spotted, “two beautiful male Bullock’s Orioles at orange feeders in yard.” (05/05/2020)

Loons in the Northwoods

From Phelps, WI: Karen noted, “the loon has returned to its favorite spot on North Twin [lake].” (05/01/2020)

Barn Swallows in Familiar Habitat

From Eau Claire, PA: Melissa said she, “saw first Barn Swallow of 2020 today. Watched it swooping and diving over pasture and fields until it was joined by a second one.” (05/04/2020)

Backyard Blackbirds

From Nashua, NH: LandP said, “didn’t see the Red-winged [Blackbird] at first, too busy looking at the Oriole. What a busy day at the feeders! Red-winged was feeding on the ground, only saw one. Welcome home.” (05/09/2020)

More Warblers

Journey North citizen scientists are noting some special warbler visitors lately.

From Oconomowoc, WI: Kat observed a, “Black-throated Warbler in my Oconomowoc, WI backyard! A “Lifer” for me! Wow!” (05/03/2020)

From Warren, MI: Pat shared, “another cold night, and now a breezy, cool day and yet another sighting of a beautiful Yellow Warbler!! Just one sighting around 10 a.m. though so I do believe my beautiful companion of the last unbelievable 8 days, has decided to fly off and resume her journey of migration now!!” (05/12/2020)

Are you seeing warblers? Go to the Journey North sightings page and under the ‘Select Species or Event‘ dropdown menu, select ‘All Other Signs of Spring’.

I Am Journey North

You still have time to submit your “I am Journey North” photos – this project will run until May 31st. Share what you love about Journey North and the migratory species and habitat you help by submitting data, following news updates and/or planting pollinator gardens. 

It is uplifting to see comments like Cyndy Boyles’, who shared via Facebook: ”Wonderful, wonderful to see faces of friendly people who give of themselves and their time to such a noble cause. Keep it up.” 

You can submit your photo as you would a sighting using the sighting category ‘Habitat’. You can also post your photo to Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to tag @journeynorthorg and use #IAmJourneyNorth.

Thank you for your commitment to protecting migratory species and their habitat!