Weather and Songbird Migration: March 16, 2016
By Dr. David Aborn

Ruby-throated hummingbird  

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Yellow warbler
Yellow warbler


Dear Journey North,

March Madness!
Birds are on the move! March Madness doesn't only apply to college basketball, spring migration qualifies too! After that front cleared out last week, the winds shifted to the south, and it brought in a lot of birds.

Gulf Gets Going
One of the most common sightings was Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, with arrivals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. Louisiana and Georgia reported the most new arrivals, including White-eyed vireos, Black-and-white Warblers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Northern Parulas.

Here in Tennessee, we have had a lot of swallows, including the first Barn Swallows, Northern-rough-winged Swallows, and Purple Martins. The southerly winds have allowed Purple Martins and Black-and-white Warblers to make it as far north as Oklahoma.

Wings in the West Too
The West has seen its share of arrivals, too, with Yellow Warblers, Lucy's Warblers, and Bell's Vireos being reported in Arizona, and very early arrivals of MacGillivray's Warblers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Western Kingbirds in California.

Weather Map  


This Week's Outlook
So will March Migration Madness continue this week? Probably not.

  • If you look at the weather map, there is another cold front moving across the country. Most of the rain is restricted to the very northern portions of the Midwest, but the high pressure behind the front is bringing strong north winds with it (here in Tennessee, we have been in the 80's, but we will be back to the 50's by the weekend).

  • Those north winds won't allow birds to make much progress north, and won't allow many new birds to arrive from the tropics.

  • By the weekend, the high pressure will have moved far enough east that the winds in the western U.S. will shift to the south, so we may see some movement out there. For the rest of the country, it will probably be early next week before birds will be able to move again.
Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist  

Spring officially arrives on Sunday, so celebrate by getting out and looking for birds!

Take care,

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

Next Update: March 23, 2016