March 30, 2011
Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Birds are on the move! Lots of migrants are showing up across the country. All the rain over the past week really has birds stacked up along the Gulf Coast. Birders and researchers from Texas to Florida have been reporting lots of new arrivals, including the first Northern Parulas, Prothonotary Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Worm-eating Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, Western Kingbirds, Great-crested Flycatchers, Summer Tanagers, Red-eyed Vireos, White-eyed Vireos, and even an early Wood Thrush! The rain and north winds have not given birds a chance to get much farther north than Tennessee and the Carolinas. The first report of Orchard Oriole came from South Carolina, along with the first Chimney Swifts. Here in Tennessee, I have received reports of Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, and gnatcatchers.

Things out west were much better than the previous week (yeah!). People in Arizona were treated to 5 species of warblers; Nashville, Orange-crowned, Lucy’s, Black-throated-gray, and Wilson’s, while people in southern California saw Scott’s Orioles, Western Kingbirds, Rufus Hummingbirds, and Allen’s Hummingbirds.

How Does This Week Look?
So will this week be just as good? You should be starting to get the hang of reading a weather map by now:

  • The cold front and low pressure area over the Southeast should get out of here by tomorrow. The high pressure behind it will bring some north winds for a couple of days, keeping birds grounded in the eastern half of the country.
  • By the weekend, the high pressure will have move far enough east that the winds will shift to the south, allowing birds to make some good progress northward. I expect that many of the species I just mentioned will start showing up in the Midwest and Northeast.
  • Flying conditions are good out West right now, so people in the Southwest should continue to see birds arriving, and people in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain states should also see some of their first arrivals for the next few days.
  • Another front is starting to approach from Canada, so birds in the western US will face bad weather by tomorrow or Friday. As the front moves east, the central part of the country will see rain and north winds by the weekend, and the eastern US by the start of next week.

As numbers of arriving migrants continue to increase, there could be some good sightings to report next week!

Calling All Bird-watching Kids!
I know we are just starting spring, but if any of you budding young birders are looking for something to do this summer, you might want to consider Camp TALON (Teen Adventures Learning Ornithology and Nature). See more: Camp Talon: Join the Fun!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN