Weather and Songbird Migration: March 23, 2016
By Dr. David Aborn

Prothonotary warbler  

Prothonotary warbler

Yellow -throated warbler
Yellow-throated warbler


Dear Journey North,

Bottled up in the South = Big Numbers
Well, as predicted, the north winds behind that cold front kept migrants bottled up down south. While some parts of the country dealt with snow on the first day of spring, birders in the southern U.S. were treated to some good numbers of migrants. A birder in Louisiana reported 45 Prothonotary Warblers, and also saw the first Hooded Warbler of the spring. Another birder in North Carolina tallied 83 Yellow-throated Warblers, and also saw a very early Black-throated-green Warbler.

A Small Window of Opportunity Going North
Within the last day or so, however, winds have shifted around to the south, which has allowed a few migrants to make a little progress north. The farthest traveler was a Common Yellowthroat that made it all the way to New Jersey!

Migrants in West Push Northward 
Out west, conditions have been much better, and people continue to see migrants arriving. Lucy's Warblers and Bell's Vireos continue to show up in Arizona, and they have been joined by Plumbeous Vireos and Anna's Hummingbirds. In California, Bullock's Orioles have arrived, and Wilson’s Warblers, Warbling Vireos, and Rufus Hummingbirds were seen as far north as San Francisco.

Weather Map  


This Week's Outlook
Will migrants continue to enjoy southern hospitality this week, or will they be able to get moving?

  • If you look at this week's weather map, there are clear skies and southerly winds over much of the country, which means that many birds will be able to make good progress on their northbound journey.

  • People in the southern U.S. should expect more arrivals from the tropics, while people in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic should keep their eyes open for their first migrants of the season.

  • There is a cold front moving through the western U.S., but it is not a strong one, so it shouldn’t slow birds down for more than a day or two.

We should start seeing big increases in numbers over the next few weeks, so get out there and enjoy it!

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist  

Take care,

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

Next Update: March 30, 2016