Weather and Songbird Migration: April 23, 2014
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Dear Journey North,

Well, this week has not been as exciting as the past two, but there was still a lot of migration activity.

In the East and Midwest
After a chilly week last week, the weather warmed up over the weekend, thanks to southerly winds. That allowed birds that had been stuck where they were to head north again. In the east, the first Least Flycatchers arrived in Pennsylvania, and Ovenbirds and Worm-eating Warblers showed up in New Jersey. Birders in New England are starting to see migration pick up, with Baltimore Orioles and Hooded Warblers being seen in Massachusetts, the first Blue-headed Vireos and Black-and-white Warblers reaching Maine. Here in Tennessee, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks around, Cerulean Warblers have been seen in this area, and at my study site this morning, I caught my first Swainson’s Thrush. When I was in Louisiana last week, there were a lot of Orchard Orioles down there. Well, now many of them are up here! The good tailwinds have helped push Prairie Warblers, Indigo Buntings, and Baltimore Orioles into Indiana, and birders in Michigan saw the first Yellow Warblers of the spring.

Busy Week in the West
It was a flycatcher bonanza in Texas, with Eastern Wood-Pewees, and Acadian, Vermillion, Ash-throated, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers all being seen. The first Yellow-breasted Chats showed up, too. In Arizona, the steady arrival of migrants continued. New species included Cassin’s Kingbirds, Bell’s Vireos, Hutton’s Vireos, and Yellow-breasted Chats, along with many of the other species I have mentioned in previous reports.  Lots of Orange-crowned Warblers and Wilson’s Warblers were reported in California, along with the first Olive-sided Flycatchers and Warbling Vireos.

Just like the southerly winds helped migrants migrate in the East, they also helped migrants in the West make a lot of progress northward. Western Kingbirds and Western Tanagers have arrived in Washington. Orange-crowned Warblers and Nashville Warblers arrived in Idaho, along with big numbers of Violet-green Swallows, and Tree Swallows and Purple Martins were seen in North Dakota.
Dr. David Aborn, ornithologist
Photo: David Aborn
Dr. David Aborn
Bell's Vireo
Photo: Laura Erickson
Bell's Vireo
Orchard Oriole
Photo: Laura Erickson
Orchard Oriole
Swainson's Thrush
Photo: Laura Erickson
Swainson's Thrush

Weather Map: This Week's Outlook
OK, you know the drill! Let’s take a look at this week’s weather map and see how migration will shape up in the coming week:

Weather map for Feb. 25, 2014
  • A cold front has just finished moving across the country and is heading off the East Coast. This was not a very strong front, and did not have a lot of rain with it. Some northerly winds are behind it, but they are not strong, and by tomorrow the high pressure areas will have moved far enough east that winds will shift to the south. Migrants may have been forced to land for a day or so, but they should find good flying conditions over the eastern US for the next few days.

  • Another cold front is moving in from the west. This one is stronger, and while it is not bringing much rain to the West, the north winds behind it should ground birds for a few days. The front will pick up more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it moves east, bringing rain to the Midwest and Gulf Coast tomorrow and Friday, and do the same to the East and Southeast by the weekend. The rain in addition to the headwinds will keep migrants from flying until the first half of next week. I don’t think there will be any major fallouts, but I do think there will be a lot of birds around those areas.

There are still a few weeks of migration left, and still a lot of birds to come!

Take care,

David Aborn
North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
Chattanooga, TN

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Next Update: April 30, 2014