Dr. David Aborn

April 15, 2009

Dear Students:
A couple of back-to-back storm systems produced more fallouts over the past week, especially over Easter weekend. Bird watchers along the Texas coast went out immediately after storms passed by on April 12th. The storms hit right around the time many migrants were arriving from the tropics, so the people were rewarded with many migrants that were forced to land. Cerulean Warblers, Indigo Buntings, and Painted Buntings were particularly numerous. The hawk watching station in Corpus Christi I mentioned last week reported 11,000 Broad-winged Hawks, 1,000 Turkey Vultures, and 1,000 Mississippi Kites! Hawk watchers reported that the day was long, but fun.

Great Birding, Thanks to the Weather!
Numbers were good elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. One person spent an entire day walking a 7-mile trail in Louisiana and counted 290 White-eyed Vireos, 280 Prothonotary Warblers, 250 Red-eyed Vireos, 250 Common Yellowthroats, and 170 Hooded Warblers!!! Birders along the Alabama coast reported hundreds of Scarlet Tanagers, and 21 species of warblers.

There was enough of a break between storm systems to allow migrants to make some progress north before being grounded again. Washington, DC reported Northern Parulas, Black-and-white Warblers, Ovenbirds, Common Yellowthroats, and Louisiana Waterthrushes. Pennsylvania recorded its first Blue-headed Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Yellow-throated Warblers of the season.

By the beginning of this week, the Easter system had moved far enough east to allow birds to move. People in Missouri reported their first White-eyed Vireos and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Iowa had Yellow-throated Warblers and Black-and-white Warblers, and the swallows have made it to Minnesota.

Like the previous week, the western states have had a consistent movement of birds through the region. The most numerous species reported was Orange-crowned Warbler, but New Mexico, Arizona, and California all reported decent numbers of Western Kingbirds, Lucy's Warblers, and Wilson's Warblers. Black-headed Grosbeaks have also started showing up in California.

What to Expect This Week
By now, YOU should be able to tell ME what migration will be like this week:

  • The eastern US looks much quieter for the next few days. The storm system is off the East Coast, and winds have shifted to the south. This means that many of those migrants grounded over the weekend will be flying north — which is good for both the birds and the bird watchers!
  • Another front in the western US will force migrants to land, so look for some fallouts Farther west, there is another storm system over the Rocky Mountain region. The rains and north winds will force birds to land in the Rocky Mountain states and western plains. Behind that system right now, there are strong southerly winds. That means if you live in the Southwest you can expect a new set of arrivals, and if you live in the Northwest, all those birds I mentioned in AZ, NM, and CA will be heading your way.
  • By the weekend, the storm system will have moved into the eastern US, so the Gulf Coast and Southeast should be prepared for some more fallouts.

The rest of April is prime time for migration, so there should be lots of birds no matter where you are; it is just a great time of year!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN