|Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, typically a common migrant in mid to late April, and showing up in good numbers now.|
April 17, 2014: While the upcoming weekend probably won't produce huge movements of birds in northwest Ohio, good numbers of migrants have come in this week, so it should be a fine time for seeing typical birds of the season.
As of Thursday evening, the 17th, temperatures have warmed up again from the brief subfreezing blast of a couple of days ago. Winds are from the south-southwest, so there should be new arrivals on the morning of Friday, the 18th. After that, winds will shift to the west and then the northeast, so there probably won't be much movement Friday night or Saturday. Winds will shift back around to southerly sometime on Saturday night or Sunday morning. According to current predictions, Sunday the 20th should be a beautiful day for birding, with light south-southeast winds and warm temperatures. More reliable southerly winds on Sunday night should bring in more new migrants on Monday the 21st.
Some typical migrant species expected in numbers right now include Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned kinglets, Hermit Thrush, and White-throated Sparrow. Fox Sparrows and Rusty Blackbirds are past their peak, but fair numbers are still around. In open fields, this is a good time to look for Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, and American Pipit.
Warbler migration is still in its early stages, but every good patch of stopover habitat should have a few Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers now, with more coming soon. Other warblers expected around April 18-20 include Northern Parula, Black-and-white, Palm, Black-throated Green, and Pine warblers. Orange-crowned Warbler is always scarce here, but mid to late April is a good time to look for it. This is also the time to look for some more typically southern warblers that "overshoot" their destinations and wind up on the Lake Erie shoreline: Yellow-throated, Hooded, and Prairie warblers, plus Louisiana Waterthrush, are all worth seeking at this season.
Every year at this time, a few random individual migrants will show up much earlier than expected. So while some species can be predicted to occur now, a few surprises are likely as well. The birding is easy now in the woods near Lake Erie, since the trees have barely begun to leaf out, so it's a fine time to get out and celebrate spring migration.