Weather and Songbird Migration: April 15, 2015
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Dear Journey North,

April showers may bring May flowers, but they don’t do much for songbird migration! All the frontal systems and low pressure areas have made for a lot of bad flying weather, but migrants have taken advantage of the few clear windows there have been.

Effect of Rain and South Winds
One area where the rain has helped birding is along the Gulf Coast. Birds arriving after crossing the Gulf of Mexico are exhausted. Any bad weather forces them to land in big numbers, so there has been good birding this week from Texas to Alabama. Birders are reporting 16 species of warblers, with Tennessee Warblers, Worm-eating Warblers, and Hooded Warblers being most numerous. Summer Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, and Orchard Orioles were common sights as well. There was a break in the rain over the weekend, and birds took advantage of it to make some progress north. Here in Tennessee we had the first arrivals of Ovenbirds, Cerulean Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, and Baltimore Orioles. The strong southerly winds helped push migrants well into New England and the upper Midwest, Tree Swallows arriving in Maine, Vermont, and South Dakota, while Chimney Swifts showed up in North Dakota, and a Nashville Warbler was seen in Minnesota.

Big Week Out West
As predicted, migration went more smoothly out West. Good flying weather prevailed most of the week, and birders were rewarded with lots of sightings, especially in California. If you are a fan of hummingbirds, then southern California was the place to be, with 5 species being seen, including Calliope, Rufus, and Black-chinned. Bullock’s Orioles, Hooded Orioles, Nashville Warblers, Warbling Vireos, and Cassin’s Vireos were also seen in good numbers. Nashville Warblers, Rufus Hummingbirds and Calliope Hummingbirds made it into Idaho, while birders in Oregon were treated to Orange-crowned Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Wilson’s Warblers, Hammond’s Flycatchers, and Dusky Flycatchers. Spring migration even made it into Alaska, with several reports of Rufus Hummingbirds!

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Dr. David Aborn
Mike's Birds, Wikipedia
Scarlet Tanager
Baltimore Oriole
Laura Erickson
Baltimore Oriole
Weather Map: This Week's Outlook
So how does this week look So what does this week look like? In a word…wet!
weather map April 1, 2015
  • Another series of fronts and low- pressure areas are moving across the country, and will bring rain to the eastern two-thirds of the country for much of the week. There might be a few short breaks in the rain, but it will remain cloudy and wet until the early part of next week. That means birding along the Gulf Coast will continue to be good, as birds continue to be held up by the bad weather. There won’t be much movement anywhere else, so I don’t expect a lot of new sightings or big increases in numbers.

  • Out West, the weather continues to look favorable for migration, so everyone out there should continue to see lots of birds on the move.

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 22, 2014