Weather and Songbird Migration: April 4, 2012
Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Well, I was half right in my report last week. I predicted that with good flying weather, migrants would make their way north and that new birds would arrive in the southern US. Migrants have been showing up farther north, but things have been slow in the South. I did not receive many reports of new arrivals and numbers have been small. A few Nashville Warblers made it to Texas, and Blue-winged Warblers have arrived in Alabama. There was a small influx of Hooded Warblers and Indigo Buntings in Louisiana and Mississippi, and a Chestnut-sided Warbler was seen in Louisiana as well. A probable explanation is that the southerly winds have allowed birds to by-pass a lot of the coastal areas and continue inland. For example, birders in Texas did not see much, but Oklahoma had reports of many Northern Parulas and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, along with some Eastern Kingbirds, Nashville Warblers, and Hooded Warblers. Migrants that were already around last week were able to make good progress farther north. Birders in Indiana reported their first Northern Parulas, Black-throated-green Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Magnolia Warblers. Waterthrushes and Tree Swallows arrived in Pennsylvania and New York.

New Arrivals and Northward Progress Out West
The situation has been similar out West. California and Arizona have seen a steady stream of Lucy's Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Bell's Vireos, and Scott's Orioles, and the first Lazuli Buntings Ash-throated Flycatchers, and Townsend's Warblers have shown up. Good flying weather has helped migrants make good progress in this part of the country as well. Scott's Orioles and Wilsons Warblers have been showing up across Nevada, Violet-green Swallows have arrived in Idaho, and several species of swallows have shown up in Oregon. Orange-crowned Warblers have also arrived in Oregon, as well as Washington; that's a good bit of travelling!

What Can We Expect This Week?
So does this week look any better?

  • There is a strong cold front in the middle of the country, the same cold front that brought all those terrible storms to Texas. I thought I might get reports of a fallout along the Gulf Coast, but so far they haven't come in. It may happen later today.
  • As the front moves east, rain and north winds will make for poor flying conditions. Birds will be forced to land and will stay around for a few days.
  • By the weekend, the high-pressure area will be far enough east that good flying conditions will return for the Midwest and western Gulf area.
  • Flying weather will be good farther west for another couple of days, but a second cold front is moving in. This front will bring more rain to the Northwest, but the Southwest should stay pretty dry. This means birds won't be able to make much progress north, so people in the Southwest should see more birds around for a few days.

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN