Dr. David Aborn

April 29, 2009

Dear Students:
Well, it looks like we may have had our last big fallout of the spring this week, which is good because things have been pretty slow in many places. With southerly winds, birds have been able to make good progress flying north. Around here, I saw my first Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Buntings, Kentucky Warbler, Wood Thrushes, Yellow-breasted Chats, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Eastern Wood Pewee, Gray Catbird, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Blackpoll Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, and Yellow Warblers. Numbers of each were not very high, but it is still a nice assortment! The Ohio Valley did pretty well, with Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all recording their first Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds, American Redstarts, Eastern Kingbirds, Great-crested Flycatchers, Wood Thrushes, and Gray Catbirds. Still farther north, birders in Maine spotted Nashville Warblers, Black-throated-blue Warblers, and Black-and-white Warblers, while Minnesota had their first Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Blue-headed Vireos, Black-throated green Warblers, Ovenbirds, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Northern Waterthrushes.

Last Big Gulf Coast Fallout?
Then came April 26th. Birding along the Gulf coast had been slow until that day, when a strong cold front arrived right around the time migrants were arriving from the tropics. The storms forced those exhausted birds to land along the Texas coast in large numbers. One of the best places to see migrants is High Island, Texas. Birders went out there after the weather cleared and counted 28 species of warblers! They reported large numbers of Bay-breasted Warblers and Blackpoll Warblers, as well as Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Other places along the Gulf coast did not report any fallouts. It is possible that the winds were coming out of the Northeast, which would push the birds towards the West.

Slow in the West
Speaking of the west, it was another slow week, although when the storm system I just mentioned was in the western US, it did create a small fallout in Arizona, where a scattering of Black-throated-gray Warblers, Grace's Warblers, Wilson's warblers, and Nashville Warblers were seen in Arizona. Like the eastern US, the southerly winds for most of the week have allowed migrants to make it to some of the more northerly western states. Idaho reported hundreds of swallows (mostly Tree Swallows), and their first Vaux's Swifts, while Washington also had many swallows, along with Black throated-gray Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Cassin's Vireos.

What to Expect This Week
What about this week? Will Mother Nature give us one last fallout for the spring? Take a look at the weather map:

  • The storm system that created the Texas fallout has stalled over the central part of the country. That means migrants won't be going anywhere right away.
  • Another front is behind that, which will cause the system to move east. While that front is not expected to be as strong, it will still bring poor flying weather to the eastern US by the end of the week.
  • For those of you out West, it looks like another slow one, although the good weather means those living in the Northwest and upper Great Plains can expect
    more arrivals.

We are at the end of the peak of migration, but it is not over yet. May can sometimes bring some surprises, so be on the lookout!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN