May 9, 2007
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Weather Forces Birds to Land
It has been an interesting week. The front I mentioned last week stalled across the middle of the country, bringing all those terrible storms. There has also been a low pressure area that has just been sitting off the southeast coast, bringing strong headwinds along the coast. That means that birds have been forced to land along the western Gulf coast, in the Midwest, and the east coast, but they have had a corridor of favorable weather in between. In the Midwest, where the weather has been the worst, there were some good fallouts. Places in Kansas reported Bay-breasted Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Blackpoll Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Swainson's Thrushes, and Veerys. In southwest Oklahoma, they have had 2.65" of rain. That is no weather to be flying in, and many of the same species as they saw in Kansas were seen, along with Nashville Warblers, Painted Buntings, Least Flycatchers, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Farther south, the Texas coast also had a nice diversity of migrants, although numbers were low. In northeast Mississippi (Tishomingo State Park, a beautiful place), birders hit the jackpot with 27 species of warbler!!! That is about 3/4 of the warbler species that might possibly be seen there.

Along the east coast, it was wet and windy, but that did not stop dedicated birders from getting out and seeing what was around. The bad weather forced many Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Wood Thrushes to land in the Charleston, SC area, and the Georgia coast did well too. They saw 16 warbler species, with Blackpoll Warblers, American Redstarts, and Yellow Warblers being most numerous.

Between Storms: Good Weather for Migration
With good flying conditions in between the two storm systems, many migrants have funneled into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys and beyond. At my study site, there have been lots of Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Blackpoll Warblers, and Indigo Buntings. This morning I had a Connecticut Warbler, which is uncommon, and a few always show up around Mother's Day, so they are right on time! At Radnor Lake, near Nashville, birders tallied 26 species of warbler, with Chestnut-sided Warblers and Blackpoll Warblers being most numerous. Around Columbus, OH birders saw 17 warbler species and 5 vireo species, and Minnesota recorded 17 warbler species, as well as the first Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Swainson's Thrushes, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (remember that last week the buntings and grosbeaks were so numerous farther south).

The western US has had a quiet week for migration. There has been good weather and migrants have been moving north. Oregon again reported Orange-crowned Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Warbling Vireos, and Swainson's Thrushes, while Washington had lots of Western Kingbirds.

What's the Birdwatching Outlook Ahead?

  • Well, that front is breaking down, so all those birds that were forced to land can take off. Places in the northern Midwest and Great Lakes can expect a good number of arrivals.
  • That system off the east coast, however, will stay put for at least a few more days. That means migrants will either have to stay put, or move farther inland if they want to make any progress.
  • A front is moving down from Canada, but right now it does not look very strong. All this means that for much of the country there will be lots of migrants around.

International Migratory Bird Day May 12-13!
This weekend is International Migratory Bird Day, so it will be a good time to get out and see what's out there. Many places like zoos, museums, and nature centers have various programs and activities for IMBD, so it is a good opportunity to see and learn more about migratory birds. See what's being offered in your area and take advantage of it.

A few more weeks of migration still remain, so get out and enjoy it! If you have any questions about bird migration, just let me know.

That's it for this season. Take care and enjoy your summer!

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

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