Friday, April 13, 2012

Bird Migration Forecast

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

BirdCast Migration Forecast: 13 - 19 April 2012

Shorebirds will be on the move this week. Watch for Upland Sandpipers on sod farms, fields and grassy hilltops.

Expect the best migration so far this year for at least portions of this week throughout North America. Many areas of the country will see fallout potential this week for passerines and waterbirds. The Desert Southwest and scattered areas of the West should see at least light to moderate movements, and the potential for precipitation warrants birders keeping watchful eyes on migrant traps. The Great Plains should see an infusion of migrants early in the period before a front passes through the region. Birders in the Upper Midwest and Northeast should finally have a respite from the lackluster migration, with moderate migration more widespread with the southwesterly flow. The Gulf Coast and Southeast should watch the passage of the low pressure system moving eastward across the country. It may spawn fallout conditions in numerous states from early in the week through to almost the end of the forecast period.

Daily forecast maps are available here.

Upland Sandpiper

Expect a strong surge of shorebirds to push northward this week. Among these will be Upland Sandpiper, which should return to breeding grounds in much of the southern and central Great Plains as well as locally in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Within the last week there have been scattered individuals seen as far north as Roberts County, SD, Ozaukee Co., WI and Westchester County, NY (the latter photographed). There are a few scattered reports from the Southeast. The biggest influx has been along the Gulf Coast, central Texas and northward into Kansas and Missouri. Even with rather sparse observer coverage there have been sightings from El Jocote, Honduras and several from La Ventosa, Mexico including 15 on this checklist.

Expect good numbers to push through central Texas and the southern Great Plains all week. We are a bit surprised that eBird has no reports of Upland Sandpiper in North Dakota anytime in May. Given the strong southerly flow into the Dakotas, this would be the April to find them there, perhaps even into the Prairie Provinces. As with the birds in Honduras and New York, Upland Sandpipers are often first detected by their bubbling calls. Also listen for them at night flying overhead. During the day, check sod farms and fields. Migrants often stop and rest on grassy hilltops, so be sure to check relatively high areas particularly during inclement weather.

Upper Midwest and Northeast
This region continues to experience the duality typical of many recent weeks, in which the Upper Midwest sees favorable conditions for light to moderate migration and the Northeast sees unfavorable for conditions for much except highly local light movements. However, the duality collapses as the weekend begins, with many areas of the region experiencing favorable conditions for more widespread light to moderate movements (with some locally heavy movements), including favorable winds combined with the threat of precipitation. Birders in many areas of the Ohio River valley, eastern Great Lakes, and northern New York state should watch for fallout conditions, for passerines and waterbirds, this weekend, whereas birders in coastal areas of the Northeast should watch coastal migrant traps for passerines. This pattern continues into the beginning of the week, and the threat of precipitation expands to include a wider array in the northern portion of the region where birders should watch for potential fallout conditions; checking migrant traps would be wise to begin the week. As low pressure moves into the region, potential exists for fallouts in the western Great Lakes and Ohio River valley, north and east through the Adirondacks. After the frontal passage, midweek is much less active with only local light movements possible in northerly winds. If however, winds are lighter or less northerly than forecast, more widespread light movements could occur. Although conditions never fully return to ideal through the end of the week, western portions of the region should see slightly more widespread light movements occur, while the Northeast sees unfavorable northerly flow to end the period. Note, the end of the week may see more potential for waterbird fallouts in the western and central Great Lakes, so birders should watch the distribution of precipitation carefully.

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