And so it begins

National Overview

The title of this post refers mainly to the two focal areas of my regular forecasts, the Upper Midwest and the Mid Atlantic. Both of these areas have been waiting for the big wave to eventually hit, and now I think it’s safe to say that the first one has crashed on our shore. Looking across the broader context we can see a couple of other notable signs of migration. Birds continue to stream into the southern states via the Caribbean and Mexico, with most of the arrivals from Mexico yesterday being Circum-Gulf. Stopover locations from the Florida Keys to and Florida’s west coast and on up the eastern Gulf coast received a big push of Caribbean migrants throughout the day yesterday as well. The real heavy migration, though, has moved up into the middle of the country where returns were consistently in the 25dbz range and birds were booking to the north. Let’s take a closer look at some of those radars.

National Composite NEXRAD from around midnight on 5/02/12
National Composite NEXRAD from around midnight on 5/02/12

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

Since I will be publishing “as I go” each morning you may see some incomplete posts throughout the early morning hours. Don’t worry- it’s coming!

Mid Atlantic

Delaware & New Jersey

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

Heavy migration was in effect across the entire Mid Atlantic last night with the heaviest returns concentrated along the eastern seaboard. Looking at the velocity map you can see some coastal push as birds are carried up through NJ on SW winds, although the main axis does remain slightly west putting the bulk of migrants just east of the NJ Turnpike Corridor. This bodes really well for Garret Mountain and inland migrant traps but should also result in good to excellent birding at coastal locales such as Cape May. Sandy Hook is under unfavorable SE winds this morning making Garret Mountain even more tempting today.

Upper Midwest

Iowa & Illinois

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

Base Reflectivity image from Davenport, IA Base Velocity image from Davenport, IA Base Reflectivity image from Chicago, IL Base Velocity image from Chicago, IL

Heavy migration over IA and IL carried on unabated through the morning hours with a strong push to the lake shore around Chicago and a more typical S->N flow across northern Iowa to bring birds into southern Wisconsin this morning. Birders around Chicago should consider Palos Woods and the Chicago lake front this morning. Birders in IA should hit trusted spring migrant traps throughout the region today.


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

Base Reflectivity image from Milwaukee Base Velocity image from Milwaukee Base Reflectivity image from La Crosse, WI Base Velocity image from La Crosse, WI Base Reflectivity image from Green Bay, WI Base Velocity image from Green Bay, WI

Wisconsin saw some of the heaviest migration of the season last night and into this morning with many new birds pushing up into the state on south winds. As the surface low pushed eastward and more westerly winds built in, birds appeared to be pushed farther to the east. This was especially true along Lake Michigan where heavy migration should result in high densities along the lake from Chicago up through the Door Peninsula. Birders in those areas should definitely be out this morning scouring any available habitat for migrants. Birders around La Crosse may see some localized fallouts today as heavy precipitation did move in between midnight and 2am. Local patches should hold new birds, as well as stopover habitat along both the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. Birders throughout south and central Wisconsin should check out typical spring migrant traps this morning as they should produce good density and diversity of newly arrived migrants. It only gets better from here, as the next two nights promise to deliver more migrants to the region and beyond. Let’s go birding!

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.

For migration updates in other regions check-

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – The Northwoods BIRDAR by Max Henschell <- NEW!
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
Arizona – Words About Birds by Tim Schreckengost <- NEW!
Pac NW – Birds Over Portland by Greg Haworth
Continental US – eBird BirdCast Forecast & Report by Team eBird

2 responses to “And so it begins”

  1. Had over 100 warbler and sparrow calls in Hunterdon County last night including apparent Blackburnian Warbler, and this morning in the rain found new arrivals at Voorhees State Park–including FOS Blackpoll and Tennessee Warbler (I missed a locally rare Golden-winged Warbler seen by others).

  2. This Morning Adrian Lesak and I birded our way into work…. it took the better part of 5 hours to walk what usually takes 30 minutes.

    I met Adrian at about 7am in Hoyt Park where I found him under some oaks going “I haven’t moved from here since I got here… I don’t know what to do- there are birds everywhere!”. He was right! We finished the day with 21 species of warbler, 5 species of Vireo, both Tanagers, and some awesome numbers.

    These are our six ebird checklists for the ‘morning’. Hoyt Park, Hoyt Park Overlook, Quarry Park, Shorewood Hills (one stop), 1918 Marsh and Picnic Point to Lakeshore Preserve.

    94 Species, almost 1500 individuals… awesome day! (and I’m sure I forgot something!!!)

    more birds on the way tonight… rest up!


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