Weather Forecast for the Birds
In my last report I pointed out a cold front that had stalled along the Gulf coast. This meant that migrants arriving from the tropics would encounter several days of rain and northerly winds, which would keep them grounded.
April 5th and 6th, all the Gulf states, from Texas to Florida reported a kaleidoscope of birds. For all locations combined, there were 18 different species of warblers, as well as tanagers, thrushes, several species of flycatchers, and Indigo Buntings. Over the weekend (April 7th and 8th), the front fell apart, the skies cleared, and the winds shifted to the south. You should know what that means...the birds took off! Places like Ohio, Missouri, Maryland, and New Jersey were treated to the same rainbow of birds that the Gulf enjoyed. At my study site, the trees were filled with birds, especially Ovenbirds and Scarlet Tanagers.
A few days ago, a strong cold front moved across the country. It was a return to winter. While there wasn't much rain, the strong north winds forced the next group of migrants to land. Places throughout the south have been reporting many of the many of the same species, but there have been a few new arrivals. Cuckoos have been showing up, and there has been 1 Baltimore Oriole sighting (Cole Co., Missouri)! At Lula Lake yesterday, it actually snowed while I was doing my bird surveys! It was a good day for Worm-eating Warblers; I saw 6, which is a new 1-day record for me. There were also a lot of Blue-headed Vireos. It was nice to see so many birds, but I liked it better when it was warm!
This weekend, the winds will shift to the south again, and many birds will head
north. People in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic should have a good weekend of bird
watching. A weak front is moving in from the west, but the winds are not strong and
not much rain is associated with it, so most migrants will be able to keep heading
north as they arrive from the tropics. Nonetheless, birds will be around, and there
will be plenty to see. Orioles will be coming in, so watch for them. In the mean
time, ponder this question: early in the spring, many of the birds that arrive are
males. The females arrive later in the spring. Why do you think this happens?
Dr. David Aborn
Copyright 2001 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form