April 9, 2008
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

First Major Fallout!
For those of you along the Gulf coast, I hope you were outside on Sunday (April 6) because the first major fallout of the spring happened. Birders and researchers in Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida in particular reported spectacular numbers of migrants. In Alabama, 20 species of warblers were seen, including the first Cerulean, Tennessee, and Blackburnian Warblers. The tally was similar in Louisiana, but 95 Indigo Buntings were added to the mix. In Key West, Florida, birders tallied 60 Prairie Warblers, 25 Ovenbirds, 20 Worm-eating Warblers, and 20 Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Not bad for one day!

Storm System Moves, More “Firsts” Arrive
The storm system that moved across the country at the end of last week really forced the birds down. Once the system moved east, wind shifted pretty quickly to the south, which has allowed many of the birds to continue onward. There have been lots of new arrivals the past couple of days, including the first White-eyed Vireos and Northern Parulas near St. Louis, MO, 4 species of swallows and many Common Yellowthroats reported in Oklahoma, and the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Blue-headed Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Black-and-white Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrushes in Washington, DC. Here in Chattanooga, I heard my first Ovenbird of the year, and a friend of mine saw the first Red-eyed Vireo, along with Hooded Warblers, Black-throated-green Warblers, and Blue-headed Vireos.

More northerly states are also getting their first taste of spring migration, with the first hummingbirds seen in Illinois and Indiana, Tree Swallows in Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, and Louisiana Waterthrushes showing up in Ohio and Wisconsin.

The southerly winds also allowed a lot of migrants to arrive in the western US as well. People in Arizona reported a big influx of Scott's Orioles, and also saw 6 species of hummingbirds. Birders in California have had the best numbers the past few days. People in San Diego had Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, and the first Yellow-breasted Chats, while farther north, 300 Tree Swallows and 114 Common Yellowthroats were seen at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary!

What to Expect This Week
This week could be another good one! Take a look at the weather map:

  • A strong cold front is moving across the country. Temperatures behind it are expected to drop 15-20 degrees, and you know what that means: northerly winds = fallout! As the front crosses the Gulf coast and Midwest today and tomorrow, many birds should be forced down, so there should be a lot to see the next few days.
  • As the front moves east, the same could be expected in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic region. There should be some good birding in the eastern half of the country this weekend.
  • By early next week, the winds should shift around, allowing people farther north and out west to enjoy the bounty of birds out there.

We're in full swing, with a lot more migration to come, so be part of the action!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN