Friday, May 2, 2014

Migration Update: Weekend of May 3-4 and beyond

Crowd pleaser: During the last few days, as expected at this time of year, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have shown up to gobble sunflower seeds at bird feeders all over northwestern Ohio
Friday, May 2, 2014: As expected, Wednesday the 30th was a big migration day throughout the region. The Black Swamp Bird Observatory's main banding station (at Navarre Marsh, in an area of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge that's closed to the public) had a big influx of birds, highlighted by a Swainson's Warbler -- only the second or third record ever for this southern warbler in NW Ohio. 

Throughout the region, numbers of birds have dropped off somewhat since Wednesday, but a good variety of warblers and other migrants can be found at all the standard stopover habitats. (Incidentally, you can check this link for information about various birding sites in this region.) Within the last three days, I've heard dozens of reports of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks coming to feeders all over the area, and less-conspicuous migrants are probably equally widespread. 

Tonight, Friday night, winds will be out of the southwest locally and they may bring in some new birds, but these winds are not part of a large-scale weather pattern so I don't expect them to produce a major flight. A high percentage of the birds that have been seen for the last few days are likely to stay through the weekend. 

If you are out birding the area, pay attention to wind direction. If winds are blowing from the north or northeast, birds are likely to move away from the immediate lake shore, so you may have better success birding the woodlots that are a mile or two inland. These are good conditions for checking the woodlots at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, immediately to the west of Magee Marsh. And this is a good time to take the self-guiding auto tour at the refuge as well. The auto tour is now scheduled to be open from 8 to 4 every day from now through May 18, giving access to productive habitats throughout this superb refuge. A map of the auto tour route is at this link, or you can get a map at the refuge visitors' center. 

An exciting find on the refuge this week -- not on the auto tour route, but on a hiking trail that's open every day -- was a Tricolored Heron. It has been seen near the northeast corner of impoundment MS 8a. See this map for the location and the best ways to walk there. 

Looking ahead: this weekend, May 3-4, will have cool temperatures, with occasional showers on Saturday. In between showers the birding should be good, with decent numbers of typical early migrants. The full variety of warblers and other migrants are not here yet, but this is a good time to look for some of the early species (like Rusty Blackbird) that will be harder to find after the next big movement. 

At this time of year, some birds will be pushing north even when conditions aren't good, so we can expect new arrivals every day. And there are already enough birds in the area to make for a rewarding time in the field. But based on current weather forecasts, it appears that the next really big wave may hit NW Ohio on Thursday May 8 and Friday May 9. I will update as we get closer to those dates. But in the meantime, good birding, and I hope to see you out there!

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