May 2, 2007
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

A Good Week!
Well, if you like Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings, then this has been the week for you! While some species are showing up in good numbers, those two species continue to be abundant and widespread. The front that was moving across the country last week created some good fallouts along the Gulf coast, especially Louisiana and Alabama. The front passed by Texas before migrants started arriving from the tropics, so while they had a good diversity, numbers were low. Southwestern Louisiana, on the other hand, had a very good day on the 25th. At one location in Cameron Parish a birder sighted 85 Yellow Warblers, 35 Common Yellowthroats, 120 Indigo Buntings, and 24 Scarlet Tanagers. On the 26th, the storms hit the Alabama coast, reported good fallouts, with 60 Tennessee Warblers, 59 Blackpoll Warblers, 83 Summer Tanagers, 46 Baltimore Orioles, 36 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and over 1,000 Indigo Buntings! By May 1st, the front reached the eastern US, where many migrants had enjoyed southerly winds which allowed them to make some good progress north. When the rains came, Pennsylvania in particular had a nice little fallout. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Common Yellowthroats, Gray Catbirds, Least Flycatchers, Great-crested Flycatchers, and Chestnut-sided Warblers were all reported in good numbers. Indigo Buntings, Yellow Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and Wood Thrushes had even made it as far north as Massachusetts before being forced to land.

In the East: Birds Continue on Their Way — But Some Missing!
By the time the front reached the East Coast, winds had shifted to the south where the earlier fallouts had occurred. This allowed birds to continue on their way. In DeKalb County, Georgia, 10 species of warblers were seen, including, Blackpoll Warblers, Cape May Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, and Tennessee Warblers. Here in Tennessee, we had a similar assortment, including our first Blackpolls, Magnolias, Tennessees, and Balckburnians, along with (of course) Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. We also had our first Swanson's Thrushes, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Wood-Pewees, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Many species that are common at my study site are present in low numbers or absent altogether. I hear very few Hooded Warblers and Ovenbirds, only a few Common Yellowthroats. Pewees have not shown up yet.

Tropical Migrants Arriving Out West
Out west, the areas along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico continue to see good numbers of migrants arriving from the tropics. This past week, 6 species of flycatchers, 6 species of vireos, and 10 species of warblers were seen. The southerly winds have not only allowed birds to arrive from the tropics, but have allowed birds already in New Mexico and California to keep moving north. Oregon had Orange-crowned Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Western Tanagers.

What's the Birdwatching Outlook Ahead?

  • A weak storm system is over the plains right now. While the rain is not heavy, it is enough to force birds to land. Places like Oklahoma and Missouri should have a couple of days of good birding.
  • As the system moves east, there could be some small fallouts, but nothing like the last couple of weeks. Nonetheless, there is a lot around, so it will still be worth getting out and seeing what's there!
  • Another front is moving in off of the Pacific. That should bring some good birding to the west as well.

Migration is peaking across much of the country, so get out there and enjoy it!

Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

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