Birds push into the Northeast

Here’s the radar from sunset last night through 5:00am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

Base Reflectivity image from Fort Dix Base Velocity image from Fort Dix Base Reflectivity image from Dover AFB Base Velocity image from Dover AFB Base Reflectivity image from Upton NY Base Velocity image from Upton NY Composite Base Reflectivity image from the Northeastern USA 

The zone of migration, bounded by the frontal systems to our north and west, has once again allowed for a moderate to heavy flight across the region. Here is the national composite radar from midnight last night: which gives you an idea of the relative migration intensity across the country. Migration in the south is still cranking as more birds are entering the region each day from the Caribbean and the Yucatan. Bird density appears to thin out a bit over the Mid-Atlantic, and we see this reflected in the Dover and Fort Dix radars as well. The reason for this is likely related to the source pool of migration-ready birds. On the heels of three nights of heavy migration the birds within the Mid-Atlantic likely needed more time to refuel before heading out again. We see this regularly during migration where reflectivity decreases on successive nights as new arrivals settle in for a few days of stopover.

While Eastern NY appeared to be under a similar migration pattern as New Jersey (light to moderate), the rest of the state was cranking last night. The precipitation over Central NY finally broke enough to allow a significant flight up into the northern reaches of the state.

For today expect a net drop in bird density across the state as more birds appear to have left then had arrived. Given the trajectory of migration over NJ this morning (SSW->NNE) expect inland hotspots to produce the highest diversity of new birds today. Garret Mountain is probably your best bet, with sites along the northern Delaware Bay west to the Delaware River also being good today. Of course breeding birds are really showing well these days, so a trip to Belleplain SF is sure to excite any birder just putting away their winter gear. Check out the staggering numbers tallied by Tom Reed and others this past weekend, posted on the BirdCapeMay.Org blog.

Looking ahead we have more of the same migration conditions shaping up for tonight, and tomorrow night is looking particularly interesting as winds shift more westerly into Friday morning. Stay tuned for more updates- and please come back and let us know what you’ve seen. Now let me get up on my soapbox for a moment…

Yesterday’s daily traffic on this site was the highest in the last two years (that’s awesome!!), and yet only a small handful of folks post site reports on a regular basis to give us an idea of the relationship between what we saw on the radar and what was actually on the ground. I realize it takes time to post, and many of you are posting elsewhere, but even a redundant post (copy-paste) or a simple eBird checklist would be an excellent addition to the daily entry (I realize I need to walk-the-talk as well, and will make an effort to post my sightings more often). This is especially important when one of us comes back days, months, or years later and want to see what happened on a particular date. Without the ground-truth information, the radar archive becomes much less useful. Again, I can’t thank you enough for all of the support and great interaction you’ve provided via email and through this site; I’m only requesting that we bolster the community participation factor that turns my one-way analysis into something much greater: a citizen science archive of migration phenomena across the Mid-Atlantic US. In case you missed it, YOU are the die-hard birders I’m talking about in the header of this website.
Good birding, and as always, thanks for being part of the community!



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6 Responses to Birds push into the Northeast

  1. Doug Suitor says:

    Hi David,
    Still waiting on that front leaving to give us a push into Midcoast Maine.
    Your hope for “a citizen science archive of migration phenomena across the Mid-Atlantic US” sounds like a perfect match for a custom ebird app. Have you spoke with any of their programmers?
    Thanks again for the NE composite.

    • Doug

      Thanks for the comment. Looks like there was a push on the Portland radar last night- but it was all at high altitude (told by the big doughnut hole in the middle of the radar image). I didn’t check to see what happened later in the night/earlier in the morning but it would be interesting to check (in fact, maybe I’ll go do that at lunch!). Once this system clears the coast, though, you should see some rapid changes in diversity and density.

      As for an app – YES! It’s all in my head and needs to be put into both an app and a book… and both are in very early stages of development. As far as eBird, you’re right also- and I’ve been thinking about possible ways of integrating it. If I could get a few people interested (crazy?) about doing what I’m doing for other regions- I could also see evolving to cover more areas under the same ‘roof’, so to speak. Lots of ideas, and no time to work on them as we kick into high gear around here… hopefully over the summer I’ll have the opportunity to develop some of them further. Any suggestions are ALWAYS welcome- so thanks again.



  2. wendy malmid says:

    Went to Sandy Hook this morning and stayed for 4 hours. There was no evidence of bird movement at the Hook. Despite the favorable winds there was little raptor migration going on except for 4 Bald Eagles that came out of nowhere. An adult and a juvenile stuck around and at one point were sparring and locked talons and somersaulted in mid air. This was so close to the hawk watch that you did not need your bins to watch it happen. Awesome!

    Hoping for better movement on Friday.

  3. John says:

    My eBird checklist for this morning.

    Location: Donaldson Park
    Observation date: 4/27/11
    Number of species: 38

    Canada Goose 30
    Mallard 8
    Double-crested Cormorant 1
    Turkey Vulture 1
    Killdeer 1
    gull sp. 10
    Mourning Dove 2
    Downy Woodpecker 1
    Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 3
    Eastern Kingbird 3
    Warbling Vireo 3
    Blue Jay 3
    crow sp. 1
    Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10
    Tree Swallow 8
    Bank Swallow 2
    Tufted Titmouse 2
    Carolina Wren 1
    House Wren 1
    American Robin 20
    Gray Catbird 4
    Northern Mockingbird 1
    European Starling 20
    Northern Parula 2
    Yellow Warbler 4
    Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
    Black-and-white Warbler 1
    Common Yellowthroat 1
    Chipping Sparrow 6
    Grasshopper Sparrow 1
    Song Sparrow 10
    White-throated Sparrow 1
    Northern Cardinal 4
    Red-winged Blackbird 20
    Common Grackle 12
    Brown-headed Cowbird 2
    Orchard Oriole 1
    Baltimore Oriole 2
    American Goldfinch 6
    House Sparrow 3

  4. Evan Cutler says:

    Central Park was dead today. Ramble was super quiet…except for Blackburnian Warbler. Tuesday was hopping w/ birds–inc. Yellow-throated W, Yellow-throated Vireo, Worm-eating, Hooded W among the highligts. Good variety and numbers. But today–super quiet. Most of the yellow-rumpeds that were in the park in big numbers on Tues have moved on. Same w/ the White-throated Sparrows.

  5. I’ve noticed an abundance of Gray Catbirds, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Yellow Warblers in State College, PA. Yesterday, I came across a nice flock of warblers including Black-throated Green, Hooded, and Chestnut-sided.