Weather and Songbird Migration: March 8, 2017
By Dr. David Aborn

Spring migrants are starting to trickle in!
Yellow-throated warbler
Yellow-throated warbler
K.Schneider/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Black and white warbler
Black and white warbler
Richard Crook/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Black-chinned hummingbird  
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Laura Erickson

Weather Map
Ornithologist Dr. David Aborn  

Dear Journey North,
A few days after that front I mentioned last week had passed, the high pressure behind it moved off the East Coast, providing southerly winds to help migrants make it to the Southeast.

Georgia/Alabama Coast Arrivals
Along the Georgia coast, the first Yellow-throated Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers arrived, and along the Alabama coast, the first Louisiana Waterthrushes, Prothonotary Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, and Northern Parulas were seen.

Western Arrivals
Clear skies and south winds also helped bring a few migrants to the western U.S. as well, with a Black-chinned Hummingbird, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, and a very early Scott's Oriole being seen.

Nesting Begins
While it is not a songbird, here in Chattanooga Ospreys have arrived, and they are already starting to build their nests!

What Does the Coming Week Look Like?
Much like last week, there is another cold front moving across the country. It has already passed over the West and Midwest, bringing lots of rain with it. Any migrants that were around would have been forced to land and wait until the skies cleared and the winds changed. The winds have already shifted in the west, and will do so in the Great Plains and Midwest in another day or two.

Meanwhile, that front is moving into the eastern U.S., so birds won't be able to make it very far for a few days. By the end of the week, weather conditions will be favorable for flying, and migrants will be able to make their way north again, and birds can arrive from the tropics. The birds out west had better get moving, because another front is starting to move in from the Pacific, so they don’t have much time!

We are just at the very beginning of migration, so I don't expect to see large numbers of birds just yet. It is a good time to practice your weather map reading skills and to get out and see what birds are around!

Take care,

  • David Aborn
    North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
    Chattanooga, TN
Next Update: March 15, 2017