March 4, 2009
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:
Even though winter is still hanging on, spring migration will be picking up in another week or two. There wasn't a lot of movement this week, but there were some arrivals. The cold front that brought rain and snow to much of the eastern US forced some of the early migrants to land. Along the Alabama coast, there was the first report of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, as well as a very early Indigo Bunting. People in Mississippi reported several Purple Martins, and the Louisiana coast had its first Northern Parula and Scarlet Tanager. Here in Tennessee, I received reports of 2 Purple Martins and 27 Tree Swallows.

Farther west, the southerly winds brought up many swallows from the tropics, with Texas and New Mexico reporting many Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Violet-green Swallows.

What to Expect This Week
How does the coming weather from a songbird’s point of view? Take a look at the weather map:

  • The high-pressure area that forced migrants to land has moved east. This is bringing more southerly winds to the eastern US. This will allow many of the birds I mentioned to take off and head north.
  • In the mean time, another front in the western US will keep those swallows grounded for a couple of days.
  • As the front moves east, people along the Gulf Coast could see some more migrants landing tomorrow and Friday. As the front progresses east, people along the Atlantic coast and southeast should see more migrants sticking around by the weekend. At the same time, the winds will be out of the south farther west, allowing a new group of migrants to come up.

Watch For These Early Migrants!
In addition to swallows and martins, keep your eyes open for hummingbirds,
Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas, Prothonotary Warblers, and
White-eyed Vireos, as these are early migrants. Seeing them will be sign of
things to come!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN