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Weather and Songbird Migration

April 19, 2006

Dear Students:

Birds, birds, everywhere! With the exception of the Midwest, the weather across the country has been pretty quiet. Southerly winds have allowed migrants that were already here to spread northward, and allowed new migrants to arrive from the tropics. I am not sure where to begin! I guess I will start south and work my way up.

The Gulf coast did not see any fallouts, but a great diversity of migrants was everywhere. Warblers were plentiful all along the Texas coast, with 11 species being seen. They included the first reported Cape May Warbler. People in Grand Isle, Louisiana saw 9 species of warblers, along with Indigo Buntings, Orchard Orioles, Gray Catbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, and some of the first Baltimore Orioles and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. They also saw an uncommon Black-whiskered Vireo, a species that breeds only in southern Florida. Bird watchers on Dauphin Island, Alabama also saw a Black-whiskered Vireo, along with 7 species of warblers.

In the Southeast, diversity was just as good last week. At Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, there were Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Blue-winged Warbler, a Cerulean Warbler, and a Black-billed Cuckoo. Here in Tennessee, I saw or received reports of a great variety of migrants. One person in McKenzie, TN (northeast of Memphis) saw 18 species of warblers!!! Warner Park in Nashville had 30 White-eyed Vireos, 6 Wood Thrushes, and 5 Kentucky Warblers. Other sightings included the first Chestnut-sided Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Acadian Flycatchers, and Least Flycatchers. At my study site, I banded a Tennessee Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Gray Catbird, Ovenbird, and an early Magnolia Warbler. I also saw Wood Thrushes, another Ovenbird, a Yellow-throated Vireo, and a Red-eyed Vireo.

In the Midwest, where the only storms of week occurred, Iowa had a pretty good fallout. They saw some of the migrants that have been farther south the past couple of weeks, including Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrushes. The same was true for people in Ohio and Wisconsin. Ontario, Canada, had their first Tree Swallows.

Out West, New Mexico had an influx of flycatchers (4 species), along with Grace's Warblers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Painted Redstarts, and Scott's Orioles. California also saw several species of flycatchers, as well as Palm Warblers and a couple of Baltimore Orioles. The southerly winds have even brought the first migrants to Alaska! They reported their first Dark-eyed Juncos. Juncos winter in the southern United States, so even though they are not Neotropical migrants, it is still an impressive trip for them!

Dr. David Aborn

Special Report Today:
Bird Banding at My Study Site

Caught in the Net
A Magnolia Warbler
Observing Fat
of an Ovenbird

This Week’s Weather and Migration Outlook
The next week looks like there may be some more active weather.

• The front that brought all the storms to the Midwest was weak in terms of the north winds behind it, so even though the front has passed through the eastern US, it won't affect the birds much.
• Another storm system and cold front is moving across the middle of the country right now. Again, it is not very strong, although it is predicted to bring more rain to the east than the last system.

This all means that there could be a few small fallouts, but for the most part birds will have good weather for migration. We are heading into the peak of migration in many places, so I expect there will lots of birds to see, no matter where you live!

Take care,
David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

The Next Weather and Migration Update will Be Posted on April 26, 2006

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