April 13, 2011
Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

We have our first fallouts of the year! The front that has been bringing storms to much of the country over the past few days forced birds to land in large numbers in Texas over the weekend. Several places on the Texas coast reported up to 18 species of warblers, including the first Cerulean Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, and Blackburnian Warblers of the year. One person in Galveston reported “loads of Hooded Warblers, Northern Parulas, and Warbling Vireos.” Someone birding another part of Galveston reported “trees full of Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks”! Other places along the Gulf Coast did not report numbers as large, but some new arrivals did show up, such as Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Black-billed Cuckoos, and Blackpoll Warblers in Louisiana.

Progress North
Prior to the cold front and its storms, much of the country was warming up with south winds, which allowed many migrants to make good progress northward. New York and New Jersey reported increases in the numbers of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, Black-throated-green Warblers, and Blue-headed Vireos. Tree Swallows—some of the earliest migrants to arrive—have made it well into New England. A birder at the Great Meadow National Wildlife Refuge reported seeing 60 Tree Swallows, while another birder saw 90 of them at Powdermill Pond in New Hampshire!

People in the Midwest saw more migrants as well. Gnatcatchers, waterthrushes, and Yellow-throated Warblers arrived in Ohio. Nashville and Prothonotary Warblers, Northern Parulas, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos arrived in Missouri, and the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrived in Michigan!

Farther west, birds kept coming in a steady trickle; no fallouts there. Some new arrivals in New Mexico included Hammond’s Flycatcher and Dusky Flycatcher, along with more Orange-crowned, Wilson’s, Black-throated-gray, and Yellow Warblers, Western Kingbirds, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Central California saw their first Ash-throated Flycatchers and Warbling Vireos, and southerly winds helped push Orange-crowned Warblers and Bank Swallows up into Oregon and Washington.

How Does This Week Look?
So will there be more fallouts this week? Well, not for a few days.

  • High pressure is dominating much of the country, so skies are clear. Winds in the Midwest and western Gulf Coast are coming from the south, which means the Migrant Express will continue to bring new birds in from the tropics and allow birds that were forced down by the storms start moving north again.
  • Northerly winds will still prevail over much of the eastern US for another day or two, so you have a chance to see some of those birds I mentioned in my report.
  • By about Thursday, winds will have shifted, and some of those birds will take off and a new group should arrive. There is another cold front out west that will move across the Midwest and East by the end of the week and over the weekend. Right now it does appear to be a strong front, so I don’t expect any big fallouts, but you never know!
  • Weather can change, and if the front gets stronger there could be some good sightings. For people out West, it looks like more of the same. I don’t see anything that will cause a fallout, so you should continue to see a steady stream of migrants coming through, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that!

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN