April 11, 2007
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Are we sure it is spring???? For most of the country that cold front that moved through last week has brought extremely cold weather that has lasted all week long.

Large Fallouts from Texas to Florida
If you were looking for migrants, 90% of you were probably very disappointed. For the rest of you, it has been migrant overload! That front brought very strong and persistent north winds. That has kept most migrants confined to the Gulf coast and unable to make it any farther north. From Texas to Florida, large, impressive fallouts have been reported all week. Along the Texas coast, people have been reporting Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Orchard Orioles, Hooded Warblers, and Kentucky Warblers in the hundreds! There have also been good numbers of Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Painted Buntings, Worm-eating Warblers, Tennessee Warblers, and Nashville Warblers. In New Orleans, one person reported 150 Indigo Buntings in one of the city parks! The situation is much the same in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

Tired Birds Landing on Oil Rigs
Remember that these birds have to cross the Gulf of Mexico, which is normally an 18-hour non-stop flight. Add in headwinds, and it can take even longer. Thus, many of the birds are exhausted when they arrive along the coast. One thing that commonly happens is that birds will land on offshore oil rigs, or even cruise ships. A group of
researchers is studying migrants landing on oil rigs. They report many birds landing on the rigs, and many more flying overhead, so migration is definitely in full swing.

Change Coming
With birds grounded along the Gulf, there really isn't much else to report. Most places did not see an influx of new birds; not even a trickle. The only exception was New Mexico, which reported their first Gray Flycatchers, Scott's Orioles, Cassin's Vireos, and Western Kingbirds.The cold weather is finally starting to move out, and yesterday winds were from the south. This will allow many of those migrants I mentioned to move north, so the rest of the country should have lots to see over the next few days. At my study site yesterday I saw my first White-eyed Vireos of the season, and heard the first Ovenbird.

What's the Birdwatching Outlook Ahead?

  • If you look at the weather map, you see another front moving across the country. The winds behind it are not strong, so while the rain will force birds to land, they should be able to take off again within a day or two.
  • A second front is moving in from the Pacific. This one is expected to be stronger. That should create some more fallouts by the end of the week and weekend. While it is expected to be strong, it is not expected to be as persistent as last week's winds, so after a couple of days the winds should shift back to the south, allowing the rest of the country to enjoy the show!

As good as things have been, we are still a couple of weeks away from the peak of migration so there will still be lots more to see!

Happy Birding!

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN