March 10, 2010
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

What a difference a week can make. Last week it was snowing here in Chattanooga and yesterday it was 75! Those southerly winds have done more than warm things up; they have started bringing in migrants from the tropics! Some of the early species started showing up all along the Gulf Coast a couple of days ago, including Purple Martins, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Birders in Louisiana also reported the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Chimney Swifts. March 8 and 9 also brought the first reports of Purple Martins and Northern Rough-winged Swallows right here in Chattanooga. The southerly winds have also allowed some of the other early-migrating species to arrive, including a Common Yellowthroat in west Tennessee, 3 Blue-headed Vireos in southern Georgia, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and White-eyed Vireo along the North Carolina coast. Any of you who live farther west should also better get ready, since 4 species of swallows and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher showed up in San Diego, California.

What Does This Week’s Weather Mean for Migration?
That was quite a lot of movement in the past week. What will this week be like? Let's look at the weather map:

  • The high-pressure area off the southeast coast will continue bringing southerly winds to the East Coast for another day or two. That means people along the southeast and mid-Atlantic coasts should keep looking for those early migrants as they make their way north.
  • A cold front is bringing rains to the central US and Gulf Coast. Any migrants arriving will be forced to land, so people along the coast may see some fallouts. As the front moves east over the next couple of days, any migrants that did not take advantage of the good flying weather will be grounded.
  • Farther west, there is another front bringing rain to the Southwest. That will keep a lot of birds from coming up through Mexico. In another day or two, however, people should definitely keep an eye out for new arrivals! That second front will move across the country right behind the first.
  • By the weekend, the skies should finally clear and winds should become more southerly, allowing a new group of migrants to arrive. Thus, this weekend and early next week would be good time to get out and see what is around!

In my report last week I did not expect as many arrivals as actually occurred, so you never know what may happen. This next week could be good, and we are only at the very beginning of migration!
Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN