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Sunday, April 08, 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: 6 - 12 April 2012

Watch for Virginia Rails this week

After an amazingly early start to spring migration across much of the eastern two-thirds of North America, we expect migration to return to a more typical schedule this week. Arrival dates should be only slightly ahead of average through the remainder of this week. The period will start with high pressure across much of the U.S.. This high will weaken as a storm system develops off the New England coast and tracks to southeastern Canada where it will take up residence through Wednesday. This slow moving system will combine with a large Canadian high pressure system and bring northerly winds across much of the eastern U.S through until late in the forecast period. The period will begin quiet on the West Coast until another storm hits Monday. This storm will track into the northern Plains by Friday. Southerly winds will develop ahead of it for the central U.S as high pressure covers the east Thursday and Friday. Generally unsettled weather conditions will prevail along the west coast much of the period after the weekend.

Virginia Rail

While many migrants are conspicuous and easy to find, Virginia Rails prefer to remain hidden in cattails and marsh grasses. This secretive species is often detected only by ear. At this time of year Virginia Rails call frequently, which makes them somewhat easier to find. They vocalize most often in early morning, at dusk and at night. They often respond to other calling Virginia Rails, King Rails, and Soras, as well as loud crashing sounds (like clapping your hands). At times, individuals may be heard calling overhead as migrants, typically a tk’rrrrrrr. This species is already on the move with several early arrivals in the Northeast. During the next few weeks, listen for this species in marshes and wetlands almost throughout North America. Rails will become more common in the northern regions (and less common southward) as the month progresses. Listen for these and other rails on calm warm nights when they are most likely to vocalize.

Upper Midwest and Northeast
Clear skies and light southwesterly flow should facilitate light to moderate movements across the Great Lakes and Midwest to begin the weekend, whereas northerly flow in the Northeast will not be favorable for much movement. Much of the forecast period is likely to be dominated by scattered precipitation, continued cool temperatures and northerly flow, suggesting minimal movements. In areas with lighter than forecast wind, or less northerly wind direction, light to moderate movements could occur. Similar to last week, westerly components to winds in coastal areas should allow at least some new arrivals daily in areas without rain. The region does not see much change until late in the week, when more western portions of the region should see bona fide light to moderate movements before precipitation shuts down birds again on the weekend. Note, as forecast last week, birders in inland areas receiving precipitation should watch local bodies of water for waterfowl fallouts.

- Unsettled conditions near the end of the week may result in another waterbird fallout from Maryland and West Virginia through Pennsylvania and New York. In addition to Long-tailed Duck, watch for Common Loon, Ruddy Ducks, scoters, and Horned Grebe. During inclement weather check lakes and other water bodies for birds that have been forced to land.

- The first significant push of shorebirds should occur with Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs expected throughout as well as Dunlin and Pectoral Sandpiper.

- While the first few Barn Swallows have been seen throughout much of the region, expect the species to become much more widespread by the end of the week. Purple Martins should also arrive throughout most of the region.

- The first Blue-headed Vireos should appear across much of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, but will not become common for another week or so. Also watch for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Palm Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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