Weather Forecasts for Migrating Songbirds #6


Published: 04/21/2021

Dear Journey North Readers,

Well, it’s happened – the first fallout of the season! And it was a big one! All the elements came together. Strong south winds over the Gulf of Mexico meant a lot of birds were flying across to the US. When they arrived, the cold front I mentioned last week had passed and brought very strong north winds. These winds forced birds to land in big numbers. The well-known birding guide Greg Miller (portrayed by Jack Black in the movie “The Big Year”) was at a birding festival in Galveston, TX, and he reported there were too many birds to count! Birders at Bayou Savage National Wildlife Refuge tallied 3,750 Indigo Buntings, 3,330 Blue Grosbeaks, 250 Orchard Orioles, 250 Eastern Kingbirds, 200 Black-throated-green Warblers, 200 Yellow warblers, 70 Red-eyed Vireos, 65 Summer Tanagers, and 65 Scarlet Tanagers! Ahead of that front, winds have been from the south, allowing birds to fly north unimpeded. New species I have seen this week include Yellow Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager. A few more House Wrens, Black-and-white Warblers, and Blue-headed Vireos were seen in Central Park in New York City. And the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrived in Indiana. 

Out west, numbers have not been as large. But there has been a steady stream of species arriving. Nashville Warblers and Black-throated-gray Warblers being especially common in Arizona and California. Wilson’s Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Bullock’s Orioles were also frequent sights.

Will this week be just as active? If you look at the weather map, that front that brought the fallout to the Gulf coast is moving into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Here in Tennessee, we are in the 70’s today but will be in the 50’s tomorrow. Frost is predicted for the next few mornings! That means any birds arriving will be grounded for a few days. The birding should be pretty good. By the weekend, birds will have southerly winds to carry them north again as the high pressure areas will have cleared the Midwest and Gulf regions. Winds have already swung around to the south, allowing a flow of migratory birds to come in from the tropics.

We are entering the peak of spring migration. It should be exciting for the next few weeks! Take care.

David Aborn