Things are really getting cranked up! The front I mentioned last week,
while its effects did not last long, did produce some fallouts. After it
passed, there was a predominantly south wind, which has allowed migrants
to really make progress.
Timing for Last Week's Front
The front arrived along the Alabama coast and Florida panhandle at
just the right time; when migrants were arriving from their Gulf
meant the birds were pretty tired, and hitting the rain and north winds
was too much for them, forcing them to land. Birders in Fort Morgan,
Alabama and Gulf Breeze, Florida reported a good diversity of
migrants (27 species)
on April 19th. At Fort Morgan, there were lots of Summer and Scarlet
Tanagers, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Wood, Swainson's, and
Indigo Buntings, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Acadian Flycatchers, Gray Catbirds,
and 18 species of Warblers! Folks in Gulf Breeze saw much the same, but
adding Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Blue Grosbeaks to the mix.
Winds and First Arrivals
After a day or two, the winds shifted to the south, allowing birds
to head north again. Many places saw a noticeable increase in
some migrants. Georgia
and South Carolina reported their first Great-crested Flycatchers and
Gray Catbirds, as well as Eastern Wood-Pewees and Blue-winged
in the Midwest, such as Iowa and Missouri, had Kentucky Warblers, Worm-eating
Warblers, Warbling Vireos, Eastern Kingbirds, and Orchard Orioles. Even
some of the northern states are starting to get in on the action (finally!).
Birders in Michigan reported Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds, Common Yellowthroats,
Warbling Vireos, and a Least Flycatcher. Minnesota is seeing swallows,
and even a Worm-eating Warbler showed up on the 23rd.
Good Week in the West
People out west have had a good week as well. The southerly winds
brought Cassin's Vireos, Nashville Warblers, Lucy's Warblers,
Warblers to both New Mexico and California, and many birds even made
it up to Oregon. Birders reported Black-throated-gray Warblers, Wilson's
Yellow Warblers, Western Kingbirds, and Black-headed Grosbeaks.
Last week I mentioned that I was going to participate in a BioBlitz
at the Chattanooga Nature Center on the 21st. We had great weather for
it, and all the different groups did well. A total of 700 species were
found on the 400 acre property. The bird group racked up 81 species.
The best bird we saw was Cerulean Warbler. We saw 2, one of which was
in the same tree as a Blue-winged Warbler; quite a nice sight. Cerulean
Warblers have been declining seriously across the country because of
habitat loss. At the current rate of decline, there might not be any
Cerulean Warblers in another 30 years. Many of the flycatchers were conspicuously
absent (no Great-crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, or Acadian
Flycatchers; Least and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are also possible during
migration), and numbers of some other species seemed low. While some
people were searching for birds with their binoculars, I had nets set
out to capture and mark birds. The best catch was a gorgeous male Blue-winged
Warbler. I also caught the only Kentucky Warbler of the day, a Yellow-breasted
Chat, an Ovenbird, and 3 Wood Thrushes, as well as an assortment of cardinals,
thrashers, and sparrows.
Cold Weather Slow-down?
think the cold weather has really slowed things down. At my study
site at the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, I
saw my first Indigo Buntings today (6 of them), as well as the first
chats, a Gray Catbird, and an Eastern Kingbird. The buntings and catbird
are about 1-2 weeks late. I have yet to see or hear any Common Yellowthroats,
and those are usually common out there. It will be interesting to see
how the rest of the season shapes up.
What's the Birdwatching Outlook Ahead?
This week looks like another good one for fallouts, and
at the right time too.
Spring migration is peaking along the Gulf coast,
and a cold front is bringing storms to that area. Like last
week's front, the north winds won't last long, but it will bring
heavy rains and storms from Texas to Florida over the next couple
of days. Much of the south will have good birding the next few days.
By the weekend, the front should be off the east
coast, and winds will shift to the south. That means the rest of
the country will
see more migrants coming through.
There is still a lot of migration
left, so don't miss out on it!
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy