Thursday, May 5, 2011

Migration Outlook May 5 - 10

Male Blackburnian Warbler in northwestern Ohio, May 2011. photo/Kenn Kaufman.
Thursday, May 5: At this season the migration always proceeds in fitful pulses and waves. The urge to migrate is so strong that at least a few birds will be moving in practically any weather, but some days bring far more migrants than others. Southerly winds, especially with rising temperatures and with clear skies to the south of us, may bring major migrant waves. Strong northerly winds will shut things down, but the migrants that have already arrived will stay here, often for days at a time.

As a result of this pattern, there will be a great diversity of birds in this area every day from now through the end of May, so the time to get out birding is whenever you can. But if you have a flexible schedule, some days will be more productive than others, which is why we try to make predictions here.

After very chilly temperatures late Wednesday night, Thursday morning is sunny but cool, with light winds out of the west-northwest. By late afternoon, winds are supposed to shift to the southwest, and later to south-southwest for much of the night. It doesn’t appear that those southerly winds are backed up by any major pressure centers or long-distance air flow, so I don’t expect a huge arrival of migrants from far to the south, but there should be at least moderate numbers of new birds in the area on the morning of Friday, May 6. With the prediction of scattered showers, the warblers and other birds should be foraging low, for excellent views. The winds will shift to west-southwest through Friday night, with clearing skies, and the moderate push of new arrivals should continue on the morning of Saturday May 7. With winds shifting around subsequently to northeast or east, those migrants should mostly stay in the area through Sunday.

Cape May Warbler in northwestern Ohio, May 2011. photo/Kenn Kaufman.
A big arrival of birds should happen sometime shortly after the weekend. Earlier I had predicted that it might be Monday or Tuesday, but now it doesn’t look as likely that Monday will be the day. Mark Shieldcastle, BSBO research director, who knows the migration in this area better than anyone, has suggested that the weather is lining up for the Second Wave of migrants to hit here on Tuesday May 10. Looking at a different set of weather forecasts, I can’t tell whether the big day is more likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. A major low-pressure area is moving in from the west, with strong southerly winds ahead of it, but it’s not clear to me just when it will be close enough to affect us. Regardless, I’m reasonably confident that our binoculars will be burning up on Tuesday, May 10 and/or Wednesday, May 11.

Short prediction: moderate arrival of birds on May 6 and 7; possibly a major arrival on May 10 or 11.

Recent news: On May 4, a Little Blue Heron was on the Entrance Pool at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and the Tricolored Heron was reported again from the causeway at Metzger Marsh. On the morning of May 5, ace photographer Brian Zwiebel (who took the cover photos for the brand-new Biggest Week in American Birding Visitors’ Guide) found a singing Prairie Warbler and a young male Blue Grosbeak on the east beach (wildlife beach) at Magee Marsh. The Tropical Birding guides reported a Cape May Warbler near the west end of the Magee Marsh boardwalk, along with other birds.

For lots of close-up photos and detailed info about the migration, check out the BSBO Bird Banders’ Blog at

And if you’re reading this on Thursday May 5, and you’re within striking distance, come over to Mango Mama’s in Port Clinton tonight for the big opening night social for the Biggest Week in American Birding! The social is hosted by the Ohio Ornithological Society (OOS) and Kaufman Field Guides. No cover charge, just lots of friendly birders, cool prizes, karaoke, a chance to share information, and tasty free munchies provided by Kokomo Bay Restaurant and OOS.


Larry said...

Hopefully the big influx holds off until at least the 11th when I get out there...keeping fingers crossed.

VB.Net Migration said...

Good information on migration.

Nature Blog Network