Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29th, 2015 ~ Spring 2015 Conclusion

Tonight's confused southerlies
Well, here we are. This spring's last Illinois Migration Report. Let's dive in.

Tonight, while winds are southerly throughout the state, they are highly inconsistent. In some areas, they are strong in southeasterly. In other areas, they are weak and southwesterly. This inconsistency, combined with precipitation sailing overhead, has resulted in limited migration tonight, hardly reaching light concentrations in most areas. Tonight is a good time to close the report indeed. What species might be among the last migrating this spring? As always, check this eBird page for an Illinois focus, and the latest BirdCast National Forecast for a regional focus.

Beyond tonight, how is May predicted to conclude? By tomorrow night, Illinois is forecast to be ensconced in powerful northerly winds. Powered by low pressure, these winds will shut down any last traces of spring migration. Weakening out a bit, this winds are forecast to remain in place through Sunday night, at which time they will gradually be transitioning to an easterly direction. So that's that.
Winds forecast for tomorrow night (May 30th)
Winds forecast for midnight on May 31st

Now that we're done with tonight, I'd like to share a few closing remarks and stats for this spring. As mentioned earlier, tonight will be this spring's last Illinois Migration Report. In addition, it will also be my last Illinois Migration Report, as I will have moved to Minneapolis by the time fall migration rolls around. But fear not! I'm extremely pleased to announce that Henry Griffin will be carrying the torch starting next fall. Many of you may know him from his posts about bird walks led in Oak Park. These walks, along with his blog (viewable here:, are both evidence of his passion for sharing birds with others. For that reason, he's a perfect candidate to take on this report, and I'm sure he'll do a grand job next fall. Kudos to you, Henry!

Next, I'd like to share some analytics from this spring's migration report:

  • Since I started the report on April 1st, as of today I will have written 50 reports, most of which were on consecutive nights
  • Between Illinois Birders' Forum and this blog, the report has received 14,016 pageviews. This number is an astounding increase from last spring's reports, which received only 4,101 pageviews. These numbers do not count any views on Twitter or Facebook, nor do they count views on the Illinois birding listerv (IBET), where most of the views are. To attain a conservative estimate, we can take the number of people subscribing to the listerv (2454), round way down to 1500, and multiply by the number of reports. That number comes out to 75,000, bringing the view total to a staggering 89,016.
  • The preface to this year's series of reports reached 904 pageviews alone.
  • Between all mediums on which the report has been posted, the link to radar with which we view migrating birds has been clicked 942 times. Similarly, the link to a useful page of eBird Data with which we predict what birds we see has reached 1,046 clicks.

These numbers are a remarkable testament to what interest in nature there really is, even within our relatively niche topic. I'm incredibly humbled and honored to have been given the privilege of writing these reports. Given the results above, it has been an extremely rewarding endeavor, writing for you. My only hope is that through this process, you've learned something new about how birds interact with their world, and perhaps learned to make some of your own predictions. The natural world is equally exciting and mysterious, and I'm glad to have been here to seize our mutual curiosity. 

All said, if you have any feedback, lingering questions, or other commentary, feel free to contact me anytime! I love nothing more than some correspondence on a good question.

As always, keep watching, keep listening, keep questioning. I'll see you out there soon.

Here's to the birds!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28th, 2015 (+ Recap for 26th & 27th)

Migration 5/26
Migration 5/27
First and foremost, I apologize for unexpectedly missing these past 2 days. Luckily, if I was to choose a convenient time to omit reports, the 26th and 27th would be good days. Very little has been moving for the past 2 days, with light to negligible migration on the night of the 26th, and light migration on the 27th. In both of these cases, conditions were essentially consistent throughout the state. So, overall, spring migration has been very calm indeed for the past two days.

Tonight, things are picking up as much as migration can in late May. Direct, southerly tailwinds have given way to light migration, with some moderate concentrations occurring overhead in Southern Illinois (see or click image to the right). Regardless of where you are in the Prairie State, some influxes should be visible tomorrow. Like in the case of today's cooperative Connecticut Warbler, these influxes will be most apparent in those more sought after species that pop up here or there. Other than that, we should be noticing an exodus of migrants now more than anything else. Which migrants are exiting? Great question! Check this eBird Page for Illinois specific answers, and the latest BirdCast National Forecast for a regional perspective.
Tonight's winds. Click to
view live.

Looking ahead into the forecast, it appears May will conclude quietly, with very little likely to migrate this weekend. Southerly winds are forecast to continue through tomorrow night in all Illinois regions except northwestern IL. After that, a front is set to expand into the state, ushering unfavorable headwinds with it. By the end of Saturday, the whole state will be ensconced in powerful northerly winds, conditions set to last at least the Sunday night. Once we get into June, winds are set to become easterly. I will detail this forecast more in tomorrow's report.

Because these unfavorable conditions are forecast for the weekend, I've decided to make tomorrow night the last of my daily reports for this spring. As you all have noted, peak spring migration has surely come to a close; anything visible on the radar from here until fall is unlikely to exceed light concentrations. For that reason, there's not too much migration left to report on! I will share more concluding remarks tomorrow, as in studying nature, reflection is always key.

For tonight, though, I bid you all adieu and good birding!

Wind forecast for midnight on May 30th

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25th, 2015

Tonight's winds. Click
image to view live.
Tonight, to our delight, the forecast has held true. Strong, southerly tailwinds dominate Illinoisan skies, facilitating some of this spring's last avian migration. Overhead, light to moderate concentrations are moving en masse throughout the state So, regardless of where you are, some influx should be visible tomorrow morning. Will you be out there to see it?

Tonight's radar. Click
image to view live.
The forecast, however, seems to have shifted ahead of today. Whereas yesterday predicted a shift of northerly winds into Northern Illinois, such an occurrence is no longer predicted. Instead, northern Illinois is set to receive westerly winds tomorrow, while the rest of the state remains within the realm of southerly winds. From there, southerlies are forecast to predominate throughout the state at least until Friday. So to any migrants still waiting to move northward, the door is open in Illinois.

That's that about that. For any of you wondering just what you may see tomorrow, check out this eBird Page for an Illinois focus, or the latest BirdCast National Forecast for a regional focus.

Good luck to all those birding tomorrow! Until tomorrow, I bid you adieu.
Winds forecast over Illinois for tomorrow night. Note westerly winds in Northern IL.
Click image to view live.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24th, 2015

Winds tonight. Click im-
age to view live.
As predicted, tonight has brought powerful southerly winds over Illinois. Perhaps even more significant, precipitation has entered the Prairie State in a variety of places. A combination of these factors has allowed only light to moderate concentrations overhead, with nothing moving where it's raining. As storms systems pass over Illinois tonight, they will block any migration they encounter. Luckily, most of the storm systems on the radar right now are limited in size, so some influxes should be apparent tomorrow regardless of where you are. 

Radar tonight. Storms &
birds in between. Click
image to view live.
As migration continues to wind down in the next few days, let's look at how the winds will affect them. Tomorrow night, winds are forecast to remain favorably southerly, so migration should again be visible Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, a front from the north is set to enter Northern Illinois, bringing unfavorably northerlies with it. By Wednesday night, these winds are forecast to block off the northern half of the state, restricting any migratory remnants to Southern Illinois. But fear not! Winds are then forecast to become southerly again by Thursday night.

Good stuff, Illinois. Predict which migrants are still out there using this eBird Page for an Illinois focus, or the latest BirdCast National Migration Forecast for a regional focus .

As always, thanks for the read, and good birding!

Winds forecast for tomorrow night (5/25): favorable, southerly tailwinds. Click image to view live.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23rd, 2015

Tonight's winds. Click
image to view live.
Tonight, Illinois has received the strong southerly winds we've been waiting for the past few days. Strong southerly winds means smooth sailing for what migrants are left, and they are indeed moving northward tonight. Light to moderate concentrations are in transit over the Prairie State right now. Many of these species are on the last leg of their northward migration, a common characterization in this last week of May. Some migratory influx will be visible tomorrow morning, but keep in mind that it won't be as obvious as it was a week or two ago.

Tonight's radar. Click
image to view live.
Next up: the forecast. Tonight's southerly winds are set to remain throughout the state at least into Tuesday, but even still they will be a'shiftin'. Tomorrow afternoon, winds will become progressively stronger, and by tomorrow night, we may see large areas where winds aloft reach nearly 50 miles per hour. This speed may be overpowering for migrants, so any movements are likely to be limited to near the surface, where winds are set to be calmer. All that aside, tomorrow night be one of those rare spring occasions of southerly winds and limited migration. From there, winds are set to remain favorably southerly through Monday night, at which time they will be calmer aloft. Southerly winds will continue until Tuesday night, when a front is set to intrude from the north and block off Northern Illinois from favorable conditions. As always, I'll keep you posted.
Powerful winds, maxing out at 44 kts, predicted aloft (1000 ft) for
tomorrow (5/24) at midnight. Click image to view live.

So tomorrow morning, then, should bear witness to some influxes. Predict what that influx will be composed of using this eBird page or a brand new BirdCast National Forecast.

Until tomorrow night, good birding, all!

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22nd, 2015

Tonight's surface analysis
Tonight's winds
Tonight, we have an example of when the forecast just doesn't hold true. Instead of variably strong southerly winds throughout the state, high pressure has unexpectedly brought a cold front. This cold front from the north has brought unfavorable east/northeasterly winds, which have extended over much of Northern and some of Central Illinois by now. As a result of these high pressure systems, winds south of this front are not remarkably favorable either, remaining confused and undirected. So, overall, we've received conditions in which migration is predominantly light. So much for the weekend arriving with a bang.
Radar tonight.

Looking toward the forecast, winds are predicted to become powerfully southerly tomorrow and remain so at least until Tuesday. This means favorable conditions for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights at least. Keep in mind, though, the following two things: 1) These winds are forecast to be strong at a level that may be overwhelming for migrants, and 2) We've entered the back end of spring migration, when heavy movements are increasingly rare. All said, we should see at least some noteworthy migration tomorrow night. I'll keep you posted.

For now, keep an eye on our handy eBird Page for predicting which species you'll see tomorrow.

With that, I bid you all adieu for the night. Good birding!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21st, 2015

Tonight's winds. Click image to
view live.
Tonight, as discussed yesterday, we have received strong, westerly-based winds. I much of the state, these winds have taken on a southerly component. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the presence of two pressure centers in or near Illinois, birds are not responding heavily. Migration so far tonight is light at best, with minimal avian noise showing on the radar.

Radar tonight. Click
image to view live.
Tomorrow night, on the other hand, is looking to be more encouraging. Winds throughout the state are forecast to be favorably southerly, though Central Illinois is set to have a strong easterly component as well. Compared to tonight, tomorrow night will probably carry more migration, perhaps reaching moderate concentrations. From there, Saturday night is looking to be even more favorable, with strong, direct southerly winds on the docket. From there, favorable southerly winds are forecast to last at least into Tuesday. Throughout this period, winds are forecast to reach 45-50 miles per hour in some places, so birds may not be as responsive to tailwinds as before. I'll keep you posted.
Winds forecast for tomorrow night (May 22nd). Click image to view the wind forecast live.
For now, I will bid you all adieu again with a link to our handy eBird Page and the latest BirdCast Report for predicting what species are out there. The breeding season is nigh, everyone; tracking phenology now essentially means finding those last migrants to depart Illinois, and of course finding those oddball stragglers.

Here's to finding stuff, everybody. Good birding!