Sunday, May 5, 2019

Migration and Weather Update, May 5

A male Black-throated Blue Warbler foraging among the tangles along the Magee Marsh boardwalk. Photo: Nate Koszycki.

Sunday, May 5: Ryan Jacob writes: Despite temperatures that have felt more like mid-April, the last few days have seen a good migration push of the kind that we've been looking forward to. Beginning Wednesday, May 1, bird numbers throughout the region steadily began to climb, crescendoing to Friday, May 3 (the start of Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s Biggest Week in American Birding) when conditions in the area were almost “fallout” in nature. First wave migrants including Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Palm Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak invaded the region, and with cold temperatures and misty conditions, a large number of birds were forced down into available habitat. This offered great low views of numerous birds, as well as some sightings of fairly rare birds such as Kirtland’s and Kentucky Warbler at the Magee Marsh Boardwalk, and Clay-colored Sparrow at Metzger Marsh.

Weather conditions remained the same throughout much of Saturday May 4 and then gradually warmed on Sunday May 5, with bird numbers steadily falling as migrants continued north, and only mild northerly winds standing between them and Canada. While Ruby-crowned Kinglets are still slowly winding down, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers have seemingly disappeared within one night; while other recent arrivals such as Black-throated Blue Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole only being seen in single digits in many areas.

Much of northwest Ohio remains flooded – creating ample foraging for shorebirds, but a challenge for birders – birds of the shore are appearing throughout the area (including roving Franklin’s Gulls) and in mudflats at Howard Marsh which has been holding Black-necked Stilt, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, and both Yellowlegs. (Yellow-headed Blackbird is also being seen frequently at Howard Marsh). Another area to check as migration progresses is the field behind Barnside Creamery on Rt 2 and OH-19, which is quite saturated and has been known in the past to attract shorebirds such as godwits and plovers (it’s also a quick place to grab lunch and some ice cream).

Looking ahead: For spring migration, we are always looking for warm southwest winds overnight to bring new migrants into the region. However, the weather doesn’t always cooperate with what “we’d like to see” for a good push of birds. Looking into the upcoming week, tonight going into Monday, May 6, is looking like the next (or at least most optimal) day for migrants. With winds shifting to southwest Sunday into Monday, new arrivals of warblers (including Magnolia, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and Bay-breasted), vireos, flycatchers, and thrushes should be hitting the lakeshore. These winds don’t appear to be carrying warm tropical air that we would look for with a big push, but any wind direction other than north will benefit incoming arrivals. This date also lines up with the second wave of migration in northwest Ohio which typically occurs between May 7 and 10.

Looking even farther ahead, if Monday does not see the movement we are expecting, keep an eye out for weather conditions on Thursday, May 9. Going into the morning of Thursday, winds are expected to be from the southwest, with a low of only 60 degrees. While these conditions are certainly great for migration, they also bring thunderstorms and rain. If precipitation is light going into Thursday, this could also be an alternate day to look forward to for the next big push of migrants. 


wade said...

Thank you very much for this information!!


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