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Monday, April 02, 2012

Bird Migration Forecast

Cornell's eBird website has released their bird migration forecasts for this week. I've excerpted the section relevant to folks here in the northeast, but you can read the entire forecast here.

BirdCast Migration Forecast: 30 March - 6 April 2012

Conditions across much of the West look favorable for light migration to occur during the course of the forecast period, particularly toward the end of the week. The distinct exception is the Pacific Northwest, which is again forecast to receive more precipitation that will hinder significant landbird movements. The Great Plains will experience a distinct pulse of migrants early and late in the week. Watch midweek for the possibility of southern Plains fallouts associated with a frontal passage. Although the weekend begins with a potential for fallout conditions in the Great Lakes region, conditions are likely to be poor for migration for much of the rest of the week from the Great Lakes east through New England. Southern and western extremes of the region may see movements by late in the week, as might southern portions of the coastal Northeast. The Gulf Coast and Southeast should experience moderate migration in many areas over the course of the coming week, with a possibility for fallouts associated with a frontal passage across many coastal areas from Texas to Florida.

Daily forecast maps from NOAA with an overall summary are available here.

Upper Midwest and Northeast
The weekend begins with favorable conditions in the Upper Midwest on Saturday evening for moderate migration to occur, with the potential in portions of the Great Lakes for scattered heavy migration. However, precipitation quickly enters the picture and because of rapid changes in wind direction and the potential for some widespread precipitation, birders should be aware of the potential for landbird and waterbird fallouts, particularly around the Great Lakes. As this disturbance passes, conditions across the Great Lakes will be mostly unfavorable for migration through Monday. Farther south, conditions are slightly more favorable for migration, and areas of the upper Mississippi Valley may see light to moderate movements continue through Tuesday. As precipitation builds into the region, and a stronger disturbance approaches, conditions will likely deteriorate for nocturnal migration through much of the period until Thursday night; however, birders should be aware of the potential for fallout conditions in areas where southerly flow and presumably light to moderate migration interacts with precipitation. By Thursday night, western portions of the region should begin to see more widespread moderate movements, although by Friday night, only southern portions of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee will likely see these movements as northerly flow continues over the Great Lakes. Most of the Northeast looks to be in for another round of northerly flow and precipitation through the forecast period, though light to moderate migration is possible, even in these circumstances, if precipitation does not occur and winds are lighter than forecast. Additionally, a westerly component to forecast winds may make for interesting coastal landbirding across New Jersey, New York, and southern New England by the end of the forecast period. Most movements of nocturnal migrants, if they occur, will likely be in the Delmarva region and over portions of Pennsylvania.

- Stormy conditions early in the week appear poised to force down Long-tailed Duck, Horned Grebe, and perhaps even a few White-winged Scoters moving between the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes. These species can even show up on ponds during inclement weather, so get out and check ponds, lakes, and other water bodies for these waterbirds. The extent of overland migration for Long-tailed Duck, in particular, is under-appreciated by most birders. Note the pattern of observations between major wintering areas from the Chesapeake to New England, and staging areas in the Great Lakes (where they also winter). Seriously. This is very cool. Click this link. And compare with January and February of this year. You can also listen for migrating Long-tailed Ducks calling as they fly overhead at night.

- Expect a nice push of both species of kinglets in the region. The first Ruby-crowned Kinglets have already shown up in most states and Ontario--expect the species to become more widespread this week, perhaps with some localized fallouts along the Great Lakes. Golden-crowned Kinglets should approach near peak numbers in the Great Lakes states. Winter Wrens have also already moved in record numbers and we expect this week will be near peak numbers across much of the region.

- Yellow Palm Warblers should arrive as conditions permit, particularly on the coast. Yellow Palm Warblers typically arrive and peak two weeks ahead of Western Palm Warbler. Savannah Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows should become increasingly widespread. While still about a week early, watch for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Louisiana Waterthrush to fill in territories. Watch for early Ovenbirds too, reaching the mid-Atlantic.

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