Birds continue to push north across the U.S.

National overview

Low pressure over the Southeastern U.S. did keep some birds from migrating in the area immediately affected by precipitation, but otherwise migration was widespread across the country last night. Heavy migration was evident in the Upper Midwest where birds were backed-up for weeks due to an unseasonably cold and snowy spring. Birds continued to pour up the Central Flyway via south Texas as the Gulf Coast enters the latter half of migration for the 2013 spring season.

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

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

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

More birds moved up into the northern part of the forecast zone last night with both Minnesota radars showing moderate to heavy (20-25 dBZ) migration through early this morning. Birds heading on a SE->NW trajectory will be in inland hotspots and those along the Mississippi River this morning. Given the backlog of long-distance migrants thus far, birders throughout northwest Wisconsin and northern Minnesota will pick up some new warblers today!!


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

Well, the tables have turned a bit, as weather to our south has prevented significant influx of birds into the southern part of the state, while all of the previously backed-up birds are finally making it into the north. The radars do a good job of showing this with the La Crosse radar indicating heavy (25+ dBZ) migration throughout the night while Milwaukee remained in the moderate (15-20 dBZ) range. Green Bay also indicated moderate to heavy migration although down slightly from previous nights. More birds did cross northern Lake Michigan last night which you can see on the Green Bay radar loop arriving on the Door Peninsula this morning. Birders throughout central and northern Wisconsin will see plenty of new birds at known hotspots* this morning. Given the NW trajectory, birds will be dispersed inland across the landscape with some possible concentrations along the Lake Superior shoreline.

*since I am clearly biased towards southern Wisconsin given where I live, I really need your feedback in terms of where these north and central Wisconsin hotspots are located. Also, if you are birding them regularly, any feedback you can provide in the comments sections of these posts would add some serious value to the usefulness of these forecasts.

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

Migration was light over Chicago last night, as a frontal boundary stifled any major influx into the region, while more birds did get up over Davenport where conditions were more favorable. Headings across the region were from the SE->NW so expect bird concentrations at inland hotspots and along the Mississippi River floodplain.

In general, the southern part of the forecast zone experienced a net loss in bird density while the northern half has finally picked up some new birds (and maybe some more seasonable weather to go with them. In both cases, though, new birds are around and birding conditions are good- so if you have the luxury of not working on this fine Monday, get outside!

As always, 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.

One Response to Birds continue to push north across the U.S.

  1. Barry Stamm says:

    Verona area. More birds seem to have left than arrived. Only 2 Nashville warblers and some yellow’s today vs. dozens and variety the previous 4 days. Most notable was the lack of YERW, when I saw close to 200 the night before just at the neighbors. 4 RBGB are now 1 in the yard. Only 2 Brown thrashers when we should have a lot more by now. A single Phoebe today but still no sign of the Bluebirds we see every year. Anyway pretty slow,the only obvious migration I saw today were TUVU’s and Bluejays. Only interesting thing today was a Bald eagle nest by lake Bell-vue with a half grown chick and when walking out a guy said there was a second about a mile west of there.
    Take care and have fun.