Thursday, April 9, 2009

Birding forecast for Easter weekend

As of mid-afternoon Thursday, April 9, weather conditions over the southern U.S. feature a very strong low-pressure area centered over western Oklahoma and a high-pressure area centered over Florida. Between these pressure centers, there is strong northward air flow over the central Gulf states. This pattern may well propel some notably early birds into our area, but after that the local migration may shut down for a few days, with occasional rain and north or northeast winds predicted.

As a result, the weekend of April 11-12 may not see any big arrivals of birds, but the migrants that are in the area will probably stay around. This is the best time of year in northwest Ohio for seeing large numbers of Fox Sparrows and Rusty Blackbirds. Both of these species are present in good numbers in the woods near the boardwalk and near the Sportsmen’s Center at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, and in wooded areas on Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. These areas (or brushy spots nearby) also have decent numbers of other early migrants such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Winter Wren, Eastern Towhee, and Field Sparrow.

For Easter weekend, birders visiting the area will probably want to go look for the Mountain Bluebird just west of Toledo (which was still being seen as of Thursday morning; see for updates) and perhaps spend some time birding in the beautiful Oak Openings area immediately to the south. Then if you come to the lakeshore area, you’ll find a good variety of the early migrants mentioned above, plus lots of waterfowl in the marshes, by visiting Magee Marsh, Ottawa NWR, Maumee Bay State Park, East Harbor State Park, and other traditional local birding areas. And it’s possible that you’ll find some isolated odd bird that has arrived well ahead of schedule, or some unexpected southern species, courtesy of the weather conditions that prevail right now, two days before the weekend.

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