March 11, 2009
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:
Spring is getting closer! The high-pressure area in the eastern US has been parked off the coast, bringing southerly winds to the eastern half of the country the past few days. (It was in the 80's here yesterday and today.) Those winds have allowed more migrants to make their way up from the tropics. I had 4 Purple Martins at my study site this morning, and people in Georgia are reporting more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds showing up at their feeders. Some of the Tree Swallows people were seeing in Texas have made it up to Ohio, and robins have returned to Ottawa, Canada!

There have also been southerly winds in the western US. These winds have allowed another big influx of swallows (Violet-green, Barn, Cliff, and Northern Rough-winged) into New Mexico, and people in southern Texas saw a Northern Parula, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a Wood Thrush. Birders in the Los Angeles area also saw the first Orange-crowned Warbler and Nashville Warbler.

What to Expect This Week
How does the coming weather look from a songbird’s point of view? Things are going to change this week! Take a look at the weather map:

  • Another cold front is in the middle of the country, which will bring a temporary end to the warm weather. Right now, those Tree Swallows I mentioned in Ohio are staying put, as rain and north winds make it bad for flying.
  • That front will slowly be making its way east, so birds in the Midwest will be grounded another couple of days.
  • By the end of the week, the Gulf coast and southeast will be much colder and rainier, so those migrants around now had better get moving soon.
  • Out West, the weather looks good. There is no rain around, and winds are from the south. This means migrants arriving should have no trouble moving into the western and southwestern US.

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!

Hopefully, you are starting to get the hang of using a weather map to predict where it might be good for migration. If not, keep practicing; you want to be proficient when migration really gets going!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN