Dr. David Aborn

April 8, 2009

Dear Students:
Winter is still holding on. Here in Chattanooga, we were in the 70's over the weekend, but had snow on Tuesday! I mentioned last week that were a couple of cold fronts, including this last strong one, that would keep migrants bottled up along the Gulf Coast for a while, and that is what has happened. Along the Texas coast, there were reports of many Summer Tanagers, Red-eyed Vireos, Black-and-white Warblers, and the first reports of Worm-eating Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Painted Buntings. The high-pressure area has moved far enough east that winds were coming from the south by the first part of this week. While we generally think of many songbirds as being long-distance migrants, there are other species that make long journeys as well. One of those species is the Broad-winged Hawk. With the southerly winds, people in Corpus Christi, TX reported a total of 8,500 broad-wings flying over on April 5th, 6th, and 7th!


Good Bird-Banding Weather along Eastern Gulf
Meanwhile, migrants were still grounded along the eastern Gulf. The person I mentioned last week who bands birds along the Alabama coast banded 300 birds on April 4th, and another 250 on April 6th. Bird watchers in the area report high numbers of Prothonotary Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, White-eyed Vireos, and Black-and-white Warblers.

A Little Progress
I also mentioned last week that there would be a very short break between fronts that might allow migrants to make a little progress. At my study site over the weekend I had the first arrivals of Red-eyed Vireos, White-eyed Vireos, Black-throated green Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and House Wrens. A scattering of migrants were reported from other parts of the country, including a House Wren in Pennsylvania, Louisiana Waterthrushes, Barn Swallows, and Black-and-white Warblers in West Virginia, and Yellow-throated Warblers and Tree Swallows in Maine.

A Steady Stream!
Out West a steady stream of migrants has been arriving from the tropics. New Mexico and Arizona have seen their share of McGillivray's Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Lucy's Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Cassin's Vireos. California did pretty well, too, with Bell's Vireos, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Ash-throated Flycatchers, and Yellow Warblers all being reported.

What to Expect This Week
Will this week give migrants a chance to make up for lost time? Looking at the weather map, they should be in good shape:

  • The high-pressure area that has brought all the cold weather is moving off the southeast coast. The winds have already shifted to the south, which will make for good flying weather. I would expect to see some good reports from the Midwest and Northeast as birds from farther south continue their migration.
  • Another front in the western US will force migrants to land, so look for some fallouts in that part of the country over the next day or two.
  • As the front moves east, the poor flying weather will arrive in the eastern US over the weekend.
  • By that time, weather will have improved out West, allowing a new group of migrants to arrive.
  • By early next week, another front is going to be moving in from the Pacific, and the pattern will repeat itself.

We are approaching the peak of migration, so lots should be happening!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN