Central Flyway shutdown for the night, while MAYgration marches on all around us


National overview

A cold front stretched from the Yucatan to Canada brought heavy precipitation and opposing winds to the Central Flyway last night, effectively shutting down any major migration over the middle of the US, although some local movement was evident on the radar (see below). With the exception of some heavy precipitation over Florida and some high pressure cells over New England and the Great Plains regions, birds were on the move across the country. Check out the Hurtado Radar from 3pm yesterday through this morning to see for yourself.

national composite nexrad from around 11:00pm on 5/2/13

National Composite NEXRAD from around 11:00pm on 5/2/13

Below are the radar loops from sunset last night through 5:00am (central time) this morning

Upper Midwest


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

base reflectivity image from Duluth base velocity image from Duluth

base reflectivity image from Minnesota base velocity image from Minnesota

It’s May, and birds are going to move regardless, which is what you can see on both the Twin Cities and Duluth radars. Despite precipitation and opposing winds, a light but apparent movement of birds can be seen lifting off just after sunset. It doesn’t last long, but birders in the region should see a shifting cast of characters on the ground this morning. It looks as if birds around Duluth headed inland to the west, so hotspots off of the lake and west of town should be checked this morning.


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

base reflectivity image from green bay, wi base velocity image from green bay, wi

base reflectivity image from milwaukee base velocity image from milwaukee

base reflectivity image from la crosse, wi base velocity image from la crosse, wi

Precipitation over La Crosse last night was just too heavy to allow birds to move, so conditions along the Mississippi River should be consistent with yesterday. Farther east, though, where precipitation was more patchy, a small number of intrepid birds definitely did get up and go. This is most apparent on the Milwaukee radar where you can see a pulse of birds leave to the NE after sunset, and another one arrive from the Chicago area in the early morning. Lake Park is an obvious choice for Milwaukee birders this morning, as are any of the lakeshore stopover sites in the area. Farther north over Green Bay the radar detected less migration last night as precipitation was heavier during the migration period. Expect conditions in the northeast corner of the state to be consistent with yesterday.

 Iowa & Illinois

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

base reflectivity image from chicago, il base velocity image from chicago, il
base reflectivity image from davenport, ia base velocity image from davenport, ia

A few birds moved into northern IA and IL last night before heavy precipitation came through and effectively shut things down. This was especially true over Davenport where the storms moved in late last night. Over Chicago, though, the heaviest precipitation came in to the west, allowing more birds to come up into the region and get pressed against Lake Michigan. Birders in the Chicago area should consider lakeshore stopover sites this morning while those to the west will do best to stick to the Mississippi.

Of course precipitation and wind will still be the key elements to avoid today, so seek out sheltered forested patches for the best chance at seeing our little neotropical visitors!

As always, woodcreeper.com depends on you to report your sightings and be our ‘eyes on the ground’, so please come back and give us an idea of how we’re doing predicting birding conditions in your neck of the woods.

Good Birding,


For migration updates in other regions check-

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula - The Northwoods BIRDAR by Max Henschell
New England - Tom Auer’s blog
Florida/SE - Badbirdz Reloaded by Angel and Mariel Abreu
PA/Ohio Valley - Nemesis Bird by Drew Weber
NW Ohio - Birding the Crane Creek by Kenn Kaufman
Pac NW - Birds Over Portland by Greg Haworth
Continental US - eBird BirdCast Forecast & Report by Team eBird

This entry was posted in Birds, Forecast, Migration, Migration Radar, NEXRAD Migration Study, Spring Migration 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Central Flyway shutdown for the night, while MAYgration marches on all around us

  1. Leeanna Wagner says:

    Yesterday’s advice to go inland was helpful David, thank-you! From 8-10 am I hit Menomonee River parkway in Wauwatosa (West Milwaukee) and saw 15 warbler species. Their behavior made sense with the strong winds – where I saw them hugging the ground and finding sunnier/buggier conditions with wind breaks. My husband hit Lake Park, Milwaukee at 6am yesterday and saw a lot less. But we met up at Lake Park for his lunch at noon and despite the wind saw what a lot of others were spotting (see Wisbirds). However, they seemed more frantic and spazy at the lake and it was much harder to track them there.
    We are going to brave the weather at the Tosa Parkway again this afternoon and see what we come up with. Thanks for your great info. Glad you are in Wisconsin now! for all of us birders here to enjoy your great work!
    Lee Wagner

  2. Sean Sime says:

    In northern NJ the Allendale Celery Farm was slow again this morning. A few new migrants (Baltimore Oriole, Brown Thrasher and Northern Waterthrush), but the never-ending easterly winds are thumping us here. May 3rd with clear skies should not equal 4 or 5 warbler species!