Weather Forecasts for Migrating Songbirds #10


Published: 05/19/2021

Dear Journey North Followers,

Spring migration continues. But not much longer, for some. Throughout much of the southern US, there has been one last wave of mostly late season species coming through. An interesting thing happened over the past week: a high pressure system has become entrenched over much of the eastern US. This is blocking any storm systems from moving, and there is a storm system that is just sitting over Texas and Louisiana. Migrating birds in this area have poor flying weather over the western Gulf. Many birds have been bypassing this weather by flying around the rain. Places like Mississippi, Alabama, and much of the Southeast have been seeing a large volume of species coming through. At the airport in Birmingham, AL, over 70 Eastern Kingbirds were spotted! Red-eyed Vireos, Bay-breasted Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos have also been plentiful. Here in Tennessee, there have been lots of Bay-breasted Warblers, and Magnolia Warblers and Yellow-billed Cuckoos are starting to move through as well. The clear skies and strong southerly winds that the high pressure is bringing is allowing migrating birds to make their way north in large numbers. In both New York and Vermont, over 20 different species of warblers have been seen. Eastern Kingbirds, Wilson’s Warblers, Bay-breasted Warblers, and Blackpoll Warblers are being seen in Maine.

While migration may be blocked for the middle of the country, it is still going strong in the western US. Conditions are similar to the eastern US.  The northern Great Plains and Northwest are seeing lots of arrivals. In the Dakotas, Black-and-white Warblers, Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Baltimore Orioles, Gray Catbirds, and Warbling Vireos have been seen in good numbers. In Idaho, Lazuli Buntings, Bullock’s Orioles, Wilson’s Warblers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks have started showing up. In Washington, they have been getting waves of Orange-crowned Warblers, Wilson’s warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Western Tanagers.

Will this pattern continue? It should at least through the weekend. Migration will continue to be strong at opposite ends of the country. But birds will be grounded in the middle of the country. By the end of the weekend, the storm system will break down and those birds will be able to resume migration. Out east, the high pressure is pretty well stuck. This system will continue to pump southerly winds for the eastern half of the country. Both the temperatures and migration will be cranked up!

While spring migration is almost over in the southern US, it is peaking in many other places. The weather looks good for seeing lots of arrivals. Get out there before it is over! Take care.

David Aborn