Hello? Did somebody say migration?
Well, if the three-week-early spring weather hasn’t yet broken your hibernation, nor the ever-increasing dawn chorus from half-hardies and winter residents yet rattled your ear bones; wake up and smell the zugunruhe! This $!&$’s about to go down!
In case you hadn’t seen it yet, the Cornell Lab of O has begun BirdCast 2.0, a tool that will eventually bring together radar, eBird, weather forecasts, and a whole host of computer modeling in an attempt to forecast bird migration and birding conditions. In a few words: THAT’S AWESOME! You should definitely add BirdCast to your birding toolbox as it will provide a great regional perspective on migration across the country. Here’s the link to the most recent forecast: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/bc20120309
So Woodcreeper.com will enter its 9th spring season this month, and its first outside of New Jersey in as much time. Now broadcasting from Madison, Wisconsin, I can actually witness the Central Flyway firsthand while watching things unfold on the radar in the east. I’m totally excited about this and look forward to developing a more holistic view of migration with this site and our sister site, Badbirdz-Reloaded (badbirdz2.wordpress.com). Angel and Mariel are already in full swing down there as birds have been moving into Florida for the past week now. If you’re interested in west coast migration, be sure to check out Greg Haworth’s awesome site in its second year now (rock on Greg!) at BirdsOverPortland.wordpress.com.
So what about the birds? Well, in the wake of BirdCast I’ve put together a little migration forecast for this coming weekend spanning the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. In the future I plan to keep things more local, but I couldn’t help but think broadly this morning, so here it goes!
Friday Night > Saturday
Friday night SSW flow over the Great Plains will allow the latest batch of northbound migrants to continue their journey, after being grounded by northerly winds on Wednesday morning. Winds are forecast to build overnight, and turn more westerly, raising the possibility of more birds reaching Wisconsin by Saturday.
Saturday Night > Sunday
As high pressure moves across the southeastern U.S. by Saturday night, winds over the Midwest will turn more SW and raise the chance of another flight into the region- this one with more concentrating power as birds are steered toward the Great Lakes. Wind speeds are looking a little high which will affect the suite of birds willing to take flight (likely favoring more large-bodied and/or stronger fliers). The Mid-Atlantic coast should see some movement on Saturday night as winds aloft will be light ranging from 5kts SW to 5-10kts WNW. Across the Great Lakes, building SW winds Saturday night will further push birds to the East Coast on Sunday morning. Also on Saturday night, SE flow across southeast Mexico will trigger some more early Trans-Gulf migrants and favorable winds along the East Texas coast will help convey these birds into the Gulf States by Sunday morning. Intense storms forecast for East Texas on Sunday morning may bring birds down across East Texas and Oklahoma. Birders in these regions should keep an eye on developing storms and monitor the weather radar for evidence of fallout.
Sunday Night > Monday
Sunday night looks excellent for a big flight up the central U.S. with favorable tailwinds from west Texas to the panhandle of Florida and north to the Boreal Forest of Central Canada. Storms associated with this frontal boundary will have localized effects on the migration density, but birds are expected to move on the east and west sides of the disturbance as winds throughout will be favorable. Therefore, expect widespread migration on Sunday night into Monday morning for the central region, with lighter flights over the east coast. A possible barrier to migration is expected across the northeast and northern Mid-Atlantic, which could set up some good birding conditions from Cape May, NJ down into the Delmarva Peninsula on Monday. Again, keep an eye on the radar to see how this plays out Sunday night into Monday morning.
Now it’s up to you to do the ground truthing! Please consider reporting your results to eBird and dropping a note back here following your forays afield.