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Weather Forecast for the Birds
May 16, 2001

Contributed by Dr. David Aborn

Dear Students:

Yet another spring migration is coming to a close, at least for some. The last couple of weeks have not brought many cold fronts down south, but other places have seen good numbers of migrants.

The Weather Channel

There was a cold front that moved across the northern half of the US on May 10th and 11th. Much of the north had been seeing very warm temperatures, but this front brought north winds which made temperatures much more seasonal, and also forced many birds to land. The list was quite impressive. Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri all reported 18 species of warblers, as well as many vireos, thrushes, and orioles. A day or two later, Maryland and New Jersey also reported many warblers, vireos, orioles, and also 4 species of flycatchers. The grand prize, however, goes to New York. Many areas of the state reported 26 species of warblers! Just to show that you don't have to live in the country to see these birds, Central Park and Prospect Park in the center of New York City were two of the locations reporting 26 species of warblers. With many areas becoming developed, city parks are becoming safe places for birds to land and feed during migration, and are often great places to see migrants.

For people living in the southern US, migration is coming to an end. At my Georgia study site, I had a small influx of the late season migrants, such as Blackpoll Warblers, Cape May Warblers, and Tennessee Warblers, but overall things have been slow. Most of the birds have left the tropics and are making their way north to breed. Also, there won't be any fronts to force stragglers to land. This does not mean there won't be anything to see! Many warblers, thrushes, vireos, and other migrants breed in the south, so go out and look for them and listen to their songs.

The Weather Channel

For people farther north, things are reaching their peak. The birds we have been enjoying in the south are just reaching areas farther north, so look for things to be active for another few weeks. In fact, there is another cold front that is moving across the northern US and southern Canada, so folks in the upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and New England should have another few good days of birding.

I hope you have enjoyed these weather reports, and have learned how amazing bird migration is. I know I am always fascinated by it, and I enjoy teaching others about migration. I also hope that you have been learning about the things you can do to help migratory birds so we can all enjoy them for many years to come.

Have a great summer!

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


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