Weather and Songbird Migration: April 20, 2016
By Dr. David Aborn

Painted bunting





Painted bunting

Tennessee warbler
Tennessee warbler
Rufous hummingbird

Martin Dollenkamp
Rufous hummingbird

Dear Journey North,

Well, apparently Mother Nature did not read my report last week. I mentioned a front moving across the country, but said it did not have much rain with it. People along the Gulf coast would disagree right now!

More Fallout Fun!
That front stalled, and the low pressure area has been pumping lots of moisture along the Gulf coast for several days now. That means migrants can't fly, which has resulted in big fallouts!

Kenn Kaufman, one of the top birders in the country, has been at the Texas coast and reports "swarms of Tennessee Warblers put to shame by colorful flocks of Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Painted Buntings, and a plethora of other migrants".

Southerly Winds Push Birds in Eastern U.S.
While that is great for people on the Gulf, it has made for some slow migration elsewhere. The news is not all bad, however. If you look at the map, the high pressure areas have been bringing southerly winds to much of the eastern U.S., so those migrants that have already been around have been moving north. At my study site this morning, I saw my first Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler,  and Great-crested Flycatcher. Blackburnian Warblers, American Redstarts, and Ovenbirds have arrived in Illinois, Louisiana Waterthrushes were seen in Michigan, and Tree Swallows have made it to Maine.

Chugging (and Humming) Along Out West
Migration is chugging along out west, too. The bulk of migrants have already passed through California, Arizona, and New Mexico, but migration is picking up elsewhere. Bullock’s Orioles, Western Tanagers, and Vaux’s Swifts were common sights in Oregon, Calliope Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds were seen in Idaho, and a birder in Montana reported 800 Tree Swallows and 75 Violet-green Swallows. Even Alaska picked up another new species; last week it was Tree Swallows, this week the first Rufous Hummingbird was seen!

Weather Map  

This Week's Outlook
So, will the fallout continue along the Gulf, or will the rest of us be able to join the fun?

  • If you look at the weather map, that front is still stuck, but it is expected to finally move starting tomorrow.

  • The winds behind it are not too strong, so all those migrants that have been grounded should be able to get moving again, so get ready!

  • Southerly winds dominate in the west, so those migrants should be able to keep going on their journey north.

Migration is peaking in the southern U.S., and is just getting busy in the northern areas, so no matter where you are you can't lose!

Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist  

Take care,

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

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Next Update: April 27, 2016