April 23, 2008
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:
Happy Earth Day (April 22)! There was no better way to spend Earth Day than to be outside and observing spring migration. While this past week has not been as exciting as the past couple of weeks, there was still a lot to see.

Winds from the South = Migrants Pushing Northward
Southerly winds have been story all week, which means no fallouts, but it also means a steady stream of birds moving north. There were no big numbers being reported, but a lot of diversity. Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi all reported Orchard Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and Swainson's Thrushes. The Maryland and Washington, DC areas have been seeing their first Orchard Orioles, Great-crested Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, Gray Catbirds, Yellow Warblers, and Prairie Warblers. At my study site here in southeast Tennessee I saw my first Blue Grosbeaks, House Wrens, Indigo Buntings, Tennessee Warblers, Prairie Warblers, and Yellow-breasted Chats.

The southerly winds have allowed migrants to make pretty good progress north. Michigan and Wisconsin reported Yellow Warblers, Hooded Warblers, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and people in Minnesota saw their first House Wren. Blue-headed Vireos and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were seen as far north as Maine!

Stalled Front Brings Fallout to Central US
Look at this week's weather map (below) and you will see a stalled front (the one that is both red and blue). This has brought rain to the central US — the single area that has seen some small fallouts. St. Louis, Missouri has been especially good, with people seeing grosbeaks, catbirds, and 7 species of warblers. The western US has seen the same conditions as the rest of the country, which means they have also had a good diversity of species, but not huge numbers of anything. New, Mexico, Arizona, and California all report a steady stream of warblers and flycatchers, along with the first Hooded Orioles, Western tanagers, Warbling Vireos, and Western Kingbirds. The southerly winds helped push a few of those Western Kingbirds up to Washington State.

What to Expect This Week
The same weather pattern will continue until the weekend:

  • A second front is coming down from Canada. This is a stronger front, and will push the stalled front out of the way.
  • The north winds behind the second front should force some birds to land. Since we are nearing the peak of migration along the Gulf coast, there could be some decent fallouts.

While fallouts may not be large, birds elsewhere will still be forced to land, so no matter where you are, this weekend and early next week should provide some pretty good bird watching! Take care.

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN