Weather and Songbird Migration: April 12, 2017
By Dr. David Aborn

Quiet Weather Brings a Multitude of Migrants
Scarlet tanager
Scarlet tanager
Penn State(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Female Ruby-throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Dr. David Aborn

Prairie warbler

Prairie warbler
Laura Erickson

Weather Map  
Weather Map
Ornithologist Dr. David Aborn  

Dear Journey North,

The weather has been much quieter this week than the past couple of weeks. There was a front that moved across the country, and while it did bring some rain, the winds behind it were not very strong, so migrants have not been slowed down too much. Some species have started arriving in big numbers. Along the Gulf coast, Eastern Kingbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, and Summer Tanagers have been particularly numerous. Wood Thrushes and Hooded Warblers are also arriving, and I heard my first Prairie Warbler this morning!

Catch and Release
Some of my research involves catching birds and putting numbered leg bands on for individual identification, and on Friday I caught my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the year. Because they are so delicate and the bands for them are so small, it requires special training to be allowed to band them. Since I have not had that training, I just let her go, but it was still a nice catch!

One of the Best in the U.S.!
The southerly winds for most of the week helped push a lot of Palm Warblers into New York City (Central Park is a GREAT birding spot!), the first Louisiana Waterthrushes, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Chimney Swifts were seen in Massachusetts, and a Wood Thrush was spotted in Illinois.

Birds Moving in the West too
There has been a lot of birds moving out west as well. Lucy’s Warblers, McGillivaray’s Warblers, and Gray Vireos were new arrivals in Arizona, whereas 4 species of vireos (Bell’s, Cassin’s, Hutton’s, Warbling) were numerous throughout California. Common Yellowthroats and House Wrens made their first appearance in Oregon.
Weather for the Week
The coming week looks similar to this past one. Here is another front that is moving through the middle of the country right now, but like the last one, it does not have strong north winds behind it, so I expect a steady stream of migrants this week. The rain with the front might ground birds for a day or so, but after that, they should be able to take off again. There is another front coming in off of the Pacific, but right now it doesn’t look like a strong one either. In the springtime, however, weather can be very changeable, so we will have to see if that system gains any strength!
Multitude of Migrants -- Get Out There!
Those of you in the southern half of the U.S. should be out there enjoying the multitude of migrants out there, while those of you in the northern U.S. should be keeping you eyes open for new arrivals!

Take care,

  • David Aborn
    North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
    Chattanooga, TN


Next Update: April 19, 2017