Weather Forecast for the Birds
May 16, 2001
Contributed by Dr. David Aborn
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.
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.
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
University of Tennesse at Chattanooga
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