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Weather and Songbird Migration

Dr. David Aborn

March 29, 2006

Dear Students:

Well, it has been a relatively quiet week in terms of the weather. There haven't been any strong cold fronts or stormy weather to cause any fallouts. Nonetheless, many sightings have still occurred across the country. Southerly winds in the southwest have allowed migrants to arrive from the tropics. New Mexico continued to be treated to Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroats, topped off by a sighting of a Vermillion Flycatcher. The males are a brilliant red (vermillion) and are certainly one of the most eye-catching birds we have. Southern California also saw some good migrants; they include a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a Baltimore Oriole in San Diego, and a Painted Redstart in Los Angeles.

The southerly winds allowed migrants that arrived the previous week to move farther north. Those southerly winds also allowed a new group of migrants to arrive along the Gulf Coast. Tree Swallows have made it as far north as Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio, while people I know in Washington, DC saw their first Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas, and a Black-throated-blue Warbler. Here in Tennessee, I received reports of the first Black-throated-green Warblers, House Wren, and Indigo Buntings. At my study site, the only migrants I saw were several Barn Swallows and a lone Tree Swallow, but I know there is much more to come! Texas and Louisiana had the greatest number of sightings. People on the Louisiana coast saw 8 species of warblers, including the first Worm-eating Warblers of the season, while Texas birders saw their first Yellow-throated Vireos, Summer Tanagers, and Wilson's Warblers. Most numbers were small, except for Northern Parulas (27) and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (52!).

This Week's Weather and Migration Outlook
This week looks like it might be a little better for seeing birds:

• A storm system is building over Texas and the Great Plains, and a cold front is moving in from the southwest.

• There won't be much in the way of north winds behind the front, but that storm system is expected to bring heavy rain to the Gulf Coast and Southeast. That means migrants that make the exhausting flight across the Gulf of Mexico will be forced to land when they reach the coast.

• Farther west, not as much rain is expected, but it may be enough that the birds will land.

Migration will only be increasing over the next few weeks, so be prepared for lots of excitement!
Take care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN
The Next Weather and Migration Update will Be Posted on April 5, 2006

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