and Songbird Migration
If you were hoping to see migrants, this was a great week for you! Last
week I mentioned that a front was moving across the country and, while
the winds behind it were not strong, the front would bring more rain.
Well, I was correct in those statements, but what I did not foresee happening
was how slowly the front moved when it reached the eastern US. Not only
did it bring rain, but it rained for days. For
example, here in Tennessee it rained for a good part of April 19, 20,
You should know by
now that rain means migrants will be forced to land, and they certainly
Last Week's Fallouts Brought Bird Sightings Galore
Probably the biggest fallout from this system occurred on April 19th
in Washington, DC, where they reported 25 species of warblers!!!!!
They also had Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks,
Cuckoos, and reported the first Veery sighting I have heard about this
year. People in Pennsylvania also reported fallout with many warblers,
Gray Catbirds, and Orchard Orioles. Here in Tennessee, reports came
in from all over the state of a good diversity of migrants. A total
warbler species have been seen, including the first Blackpoll Warblers,
Cape May Warblers, Bay-breasted Warblers, and Blackburnian Warblers.
There were also lots of Scarlet Tanagers, and the first Warbling Vireos
and Swainson's Thrushes of the year. Tennessee Warblers were common
at my study site, along with Hooded Warblers, Indigo Buntings, and
Thrushes. The story was the same from many other places. Iowa had 8
warbler species and lots of hummingbirds, grosbeaks, and tanagers;
and New Hampshire had gnatcatchers, swallows, Palm Warblers, and Orange-crowned
Warblers...Well, you get the idea.
While we were getting wet in the East, the Southwest had clear conditions
and southerly winds. This allowed many migrants to come up from the
tropics. On April 20, birders in New Mexico saw catbirds, Nashville
Black-and-white Warblers, Painted Redstarts, Indigo Buntings, and Scott's
Orioles. California also had a good diversity, with Western Kingbirds,
Olive-sided Flycatchers, Western Tanagers, Black-throated-gray Warblers,
Wilson's Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Common Yellowthroats
all being seen.
A BIG Fallout of New Arrivals!
But wait! Things didn't end there. A storm system similar to the one
that just moved across the east formed over the middle of the country.
Like the first system, it had lots of rain, along with slightly stronger
north winds. On April 22, birders in Louisiana went to Grand Isle to
look for a fallout after the rain passed. There wasn't much activity
in the morning, when migrants usually arrive from crossing the Gulf
of Mexico. At mid-day, however, things definitely changed. The rainy
slowed the birds down so that it took them a couple of extra hours
to reach the coast. Having to fight the headwinds made the birds exhausted
and they landed in large numbers. Some of the more numerous species
Yellow Warbler (35-40), Gray Catbird (35-40), Orchard Oriole (35-40),
Eastern Kingbird (50-60), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (65-70), Scarlet Tanager
(~125), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (~150), Indigo Bunting (~200). Not a
bad day birding! Take it from me--a big fallout like that is really
It is truly amazing to realize the effort birds go through
to take advantage of the abundance of insects we have during the summer.
Week’s Weather and Migration Outlook
So will this week be just as exciting? Well, it could
now, the front that created the Gulf coast fallout is moving slowly
across the east. There is a lot of rain in the Southeast, and northerly
winds around the Northeast and Midwest. That means there could be
more fallouts, and
any birds that have already landed will stick around for the next couple
- In the
western US, winds are from the south and skies are clear, so they
can expect another influx of birds to arrive.
front is dropping down from Canada. This is expected to bring more
rain and cooler temperatures to the
eastern half of the country by the end of this week and over the weekend.
We are at the peak of spring migration. Combine that with the weather
conditions and we could see some more spectacular birding!
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Next Weather and Migration Update will Be Posted on May 3, 2006
1996-2006 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our