Weather and Songbird Migration: April 26, 2017
By Dr. David Aborn

First Fallout of Spring!

Rose-breasted grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
John Harrison
Northern waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush
Dr. David Aborn


Lazuli Bunting

Weather Map  
Weather Map
Ornithologist Dr. David Aborn  



Dear Journey North,

Well, it finally happened. . . the first fallout of the spring! Recall that last week I mentioned that stalled front had been holding birds back, and once it cleared, there should be a lot of movement, and that is what happened.

Fantastic First Fallout
All along the Gulf coast, people have been reporting large numbers of a wide variety of species. From Texas to Florida, the story was the same. One birder reported:

"I was at Sabine Woods in Texas at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, and if that wasn't a fallout, I can't imagine anything any closer to one. There were thousands of birds and many of them would let you walk right up to them. They were everywhere, in the grasses, trees, and everywhere you went in the vicinity was the same way. We left at 3 p.m. and the list was at 16 varieties of warblers, but there were just so many orioles and tanagers and buntings and thrushes and vireos, I could not believe it".

Birding is Busy in the East
At my study site this morning, it was very busy. The most numerous birds around were Northern Waterthrushes, the first ones I have seen this spring. There were also a lot of catbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks around, and I saw my first Indigo Bunting.

Good weather the past couple of days has allowed many birds to continue northward, although I did not get reports of big numbers like I had expected. Nonetheless, the first Rose-breasted Grosbeaks arrived in New York and Minnesota, and catbirds showed up in Massachusetts.

Helpful Winds in the West
There was a good influx of birds in the western U.S. as well. Lazuli Buntings, Swainson’s Thrushes, Hammond’s Flycatchers, and 4 species of hummingbirds showed up in Arizona, and southerly winds helped the first Tree Swallows make it to Montana, and Rufous Hummingbirds continue to increase in Alaska. Alaska also reported their first Varied Thrush.

Fallout Forecast
Can we expect another fallout this week? You guys should be able to tell me by this point! Look at what is happening on the weather map; there is another front moving through the middle of the country, which is bringing storms and even some snow to parts of the Midwest. With all the birds around, that bad weather will force them to land, so there could be some big sightings over the next few days as it moves eastward. The north winds behind the front are not especially strong, so after just a day or two, migrants should be able to continue their journey. The southwestern U.S. looks good, with clear skies and southerly winds, so birds should have no problems arriving from the tropics. In the northwest, however, there is another front coming in off the Pacific, which is bringing rain, which will slow birds down as they try to head north.

Hang on, You Can't go Wrong!
We are heading into the peak of spring migration in the southern U.S., while in the north, migration is just starting to get busy. That means no matter where you live, you can’t go wrong!┬áTake care,

  • David Aborn
    North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
    Chattanooga, TN
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