April 17, 2007
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Well, as predicted, the cold front I pointed last week did force birds to land for a couple of days, but the winds shifted to the south fairly quickly so birds could get up north for people to enjoy!

Good Birdwatching Last Week
Most parts of the country saw quite an increase in migrants. Along the Gulf coast, Indigo Buntings were the main attraction. People in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama all reported large numbers of them. Another common sight in those places were Warbling Vireos. All tolled, over a dozen species of warblers were seen. They included some of the first Blue-winged Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, and Worm-eating Warblers. Also making their first significant appearance were Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Wood Thrushes.

Missouri Wins
By the weekend (4/14 and 4/15), the winds had begun to shift, allowing birds that had been grounded to take off. Migrants started making their first good showing in the middle part of the country. Missouri was the big winner, with Scarlet Tanagers, Prothonotary Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos, Warbling Vireos, and Yellow-throated Vireos all showing up in the St. Louis area. Ohio recorded its first Gray Catbird of the year, while Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Black-and-white Warblers arrived in Illinois. Oklahoma reported good numbers of both Eastern and Western Kingbirds, while parts of Nebraska had Yellow-throated Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrushes. Remember that waterthrushes, gnatcatchers Black-and-white Warblers, and Yellow-throated Warblers were showing up farther south 2 or 3 weeks ago. Here in Tennessee, there have been lots of sightings over the past couple of days. At my study site this morning I saw or heard 3 Hooded Warblers, 3 Black-throated-green Warblers, 3 Black-and-white Warblers, 3 Red-eyed Vireos, 1 White-eyed Vireo, 1 Ovenbird, 1 Scarlet Tanager, and 1 Wood Thrush. The tanager, Ovenbird, Red-eyed Vireo, and Wood Thrush were the first of the season there. Other places also reported their first tanagers and thrushes, as well as the first American Redstarts, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, and Worm-eating Warblers.

A Good Week in the West
The western US also had a good week, especially in California. When the front passed through, birders reported Orchard Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, Nashville Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Lucy's Warblers, and Black-throated-gray Warblers. When the winds shifted to the south, birds were able to reach some of the Rocky Mountain areas and Pacific Northwest. Colorado reported its first Gray Flycatcher, while Wilson's Warblers, Hammond's Flycatchers, and Common Yellowthroats made it up to Oregon. See? No matter where you were, there were migrants to see!
Will the coming week be as good?

What's the Birdwatching Outlook Ahead?

  • Another front is over the middle of the country right now. It is not very strong one, so it shouldn't slow birds down very much.
  • Southerly winds will kick in a day or two after the front passes, allowing many of the birds along the Gulf coast to fly north. I don't expect much in the way of fallouts there, but the rest of the country should be on the lookout for migrants heading their way!

Bioblitz Coming!
This weekend I will be participating in a BioBlitz at the Chattanooga Nature Center. A BioBlitz is an intensive survey of all the biodiversity in an area. Volunteers spend 24 hours surveying all forms of life: birds, fish, fungi, plants...everything. It should be a good day, and there could be some interesting birds that show up. Maybe you could organize your own BioBlitze at your school! You might be surprised at what you find!

Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN