Sunday, May 22, 2016

Migration update: May 22-27

Northern Parula offering great looks at eye level along the Magee Marsh boardwalk.
Sunday, May 22, 2016: As predicted, after a generous push of migrants early last week, numbers of migrant songbirds have tapered due to mild southerly winds and calm nights throughout this past week. While there were sightings of Connecticut Warbler and (potentially) Kirtland's Warbler from the boardwalk at Magee Marsh this past Friday, by today most of the birds that came in from this past push have departed. Tanagers, grosbeaks, and kinglets have become scarce (if not absent entirely) and warblers are becoming more difficult to find (especially given the growth of vegetation). But...that does not mean that there aren't any birds still out there.

On the boardwalk at Magee Marsh and in many other stopover areas, American Redstart (as well as breeders such as Common Yellowthroat and Yellow Warbler) remain the most prolific species. But Tennessee, Magnolia, Northern Parula, and Chestnut-sided Warbler can still be found in small numbers. Other birds showing very well have been Common Nighthawk (often roosting in the open near the east entrance of the Magee Marsh boardwalk), White-crowned and White-throated Sparrow at the feeders at Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and a new arrival of shorebirds. 

The Boss Unit of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the wildlife drive through Ottawa have produced Marbled Godwit, Wilson's Phalarope, Red Knot, Semipalmated Plover and Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, and a pair of Cattle Egret. Larger shorebirds such as Marbled Godwit may move around between suitable habitats, but won't typically stick around too long (so this bird may be on the move soon). But smaller shorebirds can be expected to hold to the same area for a few days. 

Based off of numbers from Black Swamp Bird Observatory's Navarre Marsh Banding Station, the northwest Ohio region has yet to see a normal push (in terms of numbers of birds) from Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Red-eyed Vireo, and the thrushes. It's difficult to say whether these birds are still being delayed in their migration or whether they skipped over the Lake Erie marshes completely. We won't know until the next wave of birds arrives. But if migration has been delayed, we could expect to see a good number of birds and species in the upcoming days. 

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - one of the least confusing of the Empidonax flycatchers.
Looking ahead: We may be nearing the end of spring migration, but the season is far from over. Based off of current weather forecasts we should see a major push of birds Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24 and 25. With low pressure systems developing to the west and a high pressure system in the east throughout Monday night and much of next week, southwest winds will be coming straight from the Gulf of Mexico and the tropics, bringing warm air and rain. Rain always has the chance to push birds ahead or drop them down into the marshes. But rain can also keep birds foraging low throughout the day and offer great eye level views. Warblers such as Connecticut, Mourning, Canada, and Wilson's can be expected during this next wave of birds, but species still lagging behind, and a push from thrushes, could also be fairly prominent over the next week. Also, this next push should bring about a large number of flycatchers (which we've yet to really see) dominated by the confusing Empidonax genus - Least, Yellow-bellied, Alder, Willow, and Acadian flycatchers. Much of next week is expected to receive southwest winds, meaning that every day could see birds arriving and departing. With warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and shorebirds all arriving in this time period, it will be advantageous to bird many habitats throughout the week. And with constant, strong southwest winds, one or two rarities could fly a little farther north than intended. 

7 comments:

dwaynejava said...

Good report here. I was just wondering though - no mention of Whimbrel?

Ricardo said...

Kenn, Can you give us your overall impression of this spring's migration? Seemed to be good numbers of red-eyed vireos at Magee May 23-25, but it seemed to me several species never did show up in their normal numbers--e.g. redstarts (at least adult males), Tennessee and black-throated green warblers. On the other hand some species seemed more prevalent than one would expect at Magee May 16-18, like Philadelphia vireos and parulas, as the photos in your updates suggested. And here in the southern part of the state it seems we do not have the usual number of some residents, including common birds like yellowthroats, and some of the uncommon ones like Kentucky warbler. I have friends in south Texas who said migration was late there. Perhaps adverse conditions in the tropics and/or subtropics during migration or overwintering period could have caused abnormally high losses, and relatively depressed numbers it seemed to me we witnessed. Would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
Ricardo Garcia

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Backpacks said...

Thanks for sharing, the photos are wonderful, but the Whimbrel is missing

 
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