Weather and Songbird Migration: April 19, 2017
By Dr. David Aborn

Migration is Definitely in Full Swing!

Hooded warbler
Hooded warbler
nebirdsplus(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Orchard oriole

Orchard oriole
Dan Pancamo(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rufous hummingbird

Rufous hummingbird
Martin Dollenkamp

Weather Map  
Weather Map
Earth Day Flag  

Earth Day

Ornithologist Dr. David Aborn  



Dear Journey North,

There has been a lot happening this week, migration is definitely in full swing, so let’s get started! Last week, I mentioned a weak front that was moving across the country, and I said it probably wouldn’t affect migration very much. Well, Mother Nature had other ideas!

That front stalled over the southeastern U.S., bringing several days of rain south of the front, but good flying weather north of the front. That means that migrants arriving from the tropics couldn’t get very far, but those north of the front had good weather to keep heading north.

Stacked Up in the South
Along the Gulf coast, many new species have been stacking up, with Orchard Orioles and Indigo Buntings being particularly numerous. Eastern Kingbirds, Blackpoll Warblers, and Gray Catbirds have also been frequent sights.

Good Flying to the North
From the mid-Atlantic northward, some first sightings of the spring include Yellow Warblers and Wood Thrushes in Ohio, Nashville Warblers, Worm-eating Warblers, and Hooded Warblers in Missouri, and the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and White-eyed Vireos showed up in Massachusetts.

Progress in the West with Alaska Arrival
While the southeast has been rainy, the weather out west has been good for most of the week. There were many new arrivals in California, including Western Wood-Pewees, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Western Kingbirds, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bullock’s Orioles, and Hooded Orioles. The good flying weather allowed many migrants to get pretty far north, with a large influx of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Orange-crowned Warblers in Oregon, while Wilson’s Warblers, Black-throated-gray Warblers, Cassin’s Vireos, and Western Kingbirds were common sights in Washington. The first Barn Swallows were seen in Montana, and the first Rufous Hummingbirds arrived in Alaska!

Will This Week be Just as Active?
Look at the weather map and see for yourself! That stalled front is supposed to stay put for another couple of days before lifting northward. That means birds in the southeast will have to stay put for a couple of more days, but birds north of the front can keep moving. There is another front in the middle of the country that can’t make much progress until that stalled front moves out of the way. That means migrants in the Midwest will also be sitting there for a while. Once the stalled front moves, the other front can move into the east and off the Atlantic by the end of the weekend. All those birds that were stuck in the South will finally be able to continue migrating, so I expect a lot of activity. After that, it looks like flying weather should be good for the first part of next week, which means people should continue to see lots of birds around. Out west, the skies are clear and the winds are from the south, so birds should continue streaming northward.

Earth Day is Saturday!
Saturday is Earth Day, and we are also entering the peak of spring migration in the southern U.S. There are lots of Earth Day activities around the country, and many involve bird watching. Look for Earth Day events in your area and learn what you can do to help the Earth, including migrating birds!

Take care,

  • David Aborn
    North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
    Chattanooga, TN
Next Update: April 26, 2017