Oriole Oriole
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Weather Forecast for the Birds
May 3, 2001

Contributed by Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Migration is in full swing! While there have not been any major cold fronts to force birds to land the last week or so, we are entering the peak of migration in many areas. There has been a steady stream of migrants moving into many parts of the country. Places along the Gulf coast all the way up to Buffalo, NY have been reporting as many as 14 species of warblers, 5 species of vireos, along with tanagers, flycatchers, and Baltimore Oriole sightings! There have been oriole sightings in along the Texas coast, eastern Tennessee, Dayton, OH, Missouri, and (appropriately) many parts of Maryland. At my study site, I saw the first Chestnut-sided Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos.

Courtesy of The Weather Channel.

So what about this week? There is a cold front that has stalled across the middle of the country. This front brought very bad weather to places like Minnesota and Wisconsin, and will continue to bring storms throughout the Great Plains and Midwest. That means that migrants flying north will have to land and wait for the weather to clear when they reach those areas. Places in the Ohio Valley should see lots of birds the next few days. For people in the south and east, the front is not expected to move, which means winds will continue from the south. Migrants will love those southerly winds for flying north. However, as I said at the beginning of my report, we at the peak of migration so just the sheer number of birds arriving means that there will still be plenty to see. Oriole reports should continue to increase. This is definitely the time of year to be looking for birds!

In my last report, I asked you to think about why male birds often arrive ahead of females. The answer is that males want arrive early to establish a territory. A territory is simply an area an animal claims for its home. Male birds, including orioles, want to find the best territory possible so that when the females arrive they can start attracting them and showing them what a great home they have picked out. You can tell male and female orioles apart. When orioles start arriving in your area, try keeping track of how many males and females you see for several weeks. You should notice the pattern I am talking about.

Happy Birding!

Dr. David Aborn
Ornithologist, Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of Tennesse at Chattanooga


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