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Annual Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts
Dr. David Aborn

April 28, 2011

Dear Students:

I apologize for sending my report a day late, but we have been dealing with some very bad weather here in Tennessee. It has been a terrible week for many people across much of the country, and I sincerely hope the worst is over.
I took these photos during yesterday's storm here so you can see why my report is late!

Click on photos for captions

Mixed Migration
As far as migration goes, it has been mixed. Before that storm system formed early in the week, southerly winds had allowed some of the migrants stuck on the gulf coast to make good progress northward. People in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts reported their first Least Flycatchers, Gray Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Kingbirds, Ovenbirds, and Blackburnian Warblers. Some migrants were able to make even farther north, with the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Common Yellowthroats, Northern Parulas, Northern Waterthrushes, and Warbling Vireos arriving in New Hampshire. The first swallows were seen in Minnesota, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Great-crested Flycatchers arrived in Michigan. At my study site here in Tennessee, I had my first Indigo Buntings, Yellow-breasted Chats, and American Redstarts.

Then the storm system formed, which shut down most migration. Not much has been seen until yesterday. While the weather was bad in the Southeast, conditions improved in Texas, and migrants started arriving in large numbers. At High Island, people tallied 29 species of warblers! Some of the more numerous species were Golden-winged Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, American Redstarts, Tennessee Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Blackburnian Warblers. As the system moves eastward, other places along the Gulf Coast should also have a big influx of migrants. Looking at the weather map, you can see a large area of high pressure, which is bringing strong north winds to much of the country (we went from the 80's to the 60's!), so what ever arrives won't be going anywhere for a few days.

Better Weather in the West
In the Western US, weather conditions have been much better. This has allowed good numbers of Lazuli Buntings and Scott's Orioles to reach Arizona, while Cassin's Kingbirds, Bullock's Orioles, and Black-headed Grosbeaks have been plentiful in southern California. Migrants that have been in the Southwest the past week or two are starting to arrive in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain states. Violet-green Swallows and Black-headed Grosbeaks were seen in Oregon, Violet-green Swallows, Tree Swallows, and Yellow-throated Warblers, were reported in Idaho, and a person birding at the Warm Spring wildlife Management Area near Butte, Montana counted 591 Tree Swallows, as well as their first Orange-crowned Warbler of the season!

How Does This Week Look?

  • As I mentioned above, high pressure will keep birds grounded along the Gulf Coast for a few days, but by the weekend winds should shift to the south, allowing migrants to head north again. People in the Midwest and New England should see some more new species for the year, while people farther south can expect good numbers of all species.
  • Another cold front is coming in from the northwest. Right now it does not have much rain with it, but the winds could still slow migration in the West.
  • As the cold front moves eastward, it will probably pick up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing rain to the Midwest and Gulf Coast by the end of the weekend or early next week. That could mean some more good fallouts.

While there has been a lot of destruction and tragedy this week, some people may find that getting out and seeing the gentler side of nature can bring piece of mind. I know it works for me.

Take Care.

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

Annual Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts

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