Weather and Songbird Migration: April 8, 2015
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Dear Journey North,

Stop and go, stop and go. That has been the pattern of migration this past week as series of fronts and low-pressure areas have been bringing an alternating pattern of good flying weather followed by bad. When conditions have been good, there a lot of migration was taking place.

Gulf Coast and the Southeast Welcome Migrants
Over the weekend, 11 different warbler species were seen along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, including over 50 Hooded Warblers at one site in Louisiana, and the first Swainson’s Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, American Redstarts, and Blue-winged Warblers. Painted Buntings (a must see for any birder!) Eastern Kingbirds, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers also arrived.

Stop and Go Weather
The good weather over the weekend allowed some of the migrants that have been around to make good headway north. Purple Martins arrived in Connecticut, Northern Rough-winged Swallows were seen in Massachusetts, while birders in Pennsylvania were treated to their first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Yellow-throated Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrushes.

Then the rains came and stopped migrants where they were for a couple of days. The skies cleared and the winds shifted yesterday afternoon, allowing birds to take off again. At my study site here in Chattanooga this morning, I saw my first Red-eyed Vireos, Northern Parulas, Worm-eating Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Great-crested Flycatcher. Someone else in the area spotted the first Wood Thrush of the season.

Better in the West
Migration out West has been a bit better, with a steadier movement of birds throughout the week. Among the new arrivals were Vaux’s Swifts in California and Oregon, Lucy’s Warblers in Arizona, and the smallest migrant in the world showing up in California and Oregon…Calliope Hummingbird! The smallest bird in North America, they are 3.5 inches long with a 4-inch wingspan, and weighing 0.1 ounce! These diminutive flyers breed in mountain meadows throughout the Pacific Northwest and Rockies, and migrate to southwest Mexico for the winter.

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Dr. David Aborn
Painted Bunting
Laura Erickson
Painted Bunting
Yellow-throated Warbler
Laura Erickson
Yellow-throated Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Weather Map: This Week's Outlook
So how does this week look for migration? Well, all I can say is I hope the birds like it where they are! Here's what's coming:
weather map April 1, 2015
  • A look at the map shows a stationary front draped across the middle of the country, with a series of low-pressure areas moving along it. Conditions south of that front are good for flying, but once birds reach the front, they will be stopped in their tracks. That means that while there might be a lot of birds arriving, they won’t be able to get very far.

  • Eventually, that stationary front will get moving and clear out. North winds will be behind it, so it will probably be late in the weekend or early next week before conditions really get good for migration.

Things are really getting ramped up, so get out and enjoy it!

Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

Next Update: April 15, 2014