Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17th, 2015

Radar at the time of
this post
Hey everybody,

Tonight's winds.
Remarkably, tonight is showing a remarkable similar pattern to last night's migration. Throughout most of Illinois, winds are fairly weak, with directional variation observable every 25 miles or so, depending on where you are. Birds are indeed migrating through this variation, doing so with light concentrations everywhere in the Prairie State except for far southern and southeastern IL, where migration is reaching moderate concentrations. Given that we've had some noteworthy migration last night and tonight, tomorrow morning should be a great time to bird. I'll be excited to read your reports. Today, species as diverse as Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes, Purple Finches, and even a Loggerhead Shrike. We're really digging into spring migration folks; it only gets better from here.
Winds forecast for Saturday
 night. Click to enlarge.

SO, the big question remains to be about Sunday morning. Winds are forecast to be powerfully southeasterly (18 to 28 mph aloft) tomorrow night, which makes it likely that even more blue will be packed into the radar. While the easterly component of the winds may deter some migrants who intend to head northeast-ward, I expect to see a lot more migration tomorrow night, reaching moderate concentrations throughout the state at least. We'll see if this actually plays out, but Sunday morning is likely to be an exciting time to bird.

Given this forecast, as always it's important to know what you may out there! So, here's our handy page of eBird data that depicts the year in bird frequencies. Also, I encourage you to take a look at the latest BirdCast National Migration Forecast, hot off the press from the pros at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Good luck to all those birding tomorrow morning!
The confusing amalgam of weather systems ("L's" and "H's") responsible for tonight's winds.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16th, 2015

Tonight's radar
Evening everyone!

It's getting late, so I'll use this report as a (much needed) exercise in brevity

Exciting news! In tonight's weak and confused winds, birds are migrating throughout the state. Concentrations overall are light, but the beauty is in their consistency throughout the Prairie State. Migration is already reaching moderate concentrations in far southern and southwestern Illinois; we'll see tomorrow if concentrations increase throughout the state. Regardless of where you are, there should be some notable arrivals and influxes tomorrow, albeit more subtle than what we'll see in May.

Tonight's winds
Looking ahead, winds are forecast to be weakly southerly in Southern and Central Illinois tomorrow night. Northern Illinois is set to be in a high pressure center that ushers winds in from the north, so migration will likely be less notable there. SO, if you're in Central and Southern Illinois, Saturday morning may be an exciting time to get out there and survey some migrants. Northern Illinois may just show less obvious influxes from the the night before. The real time to look forward to throughout the state, though, is Saturday night, when winds are forecast to be strongly southeasterly. If the forecast holds (it has remained consistent for a couple of days now), Saturday morning should be a nice warm-up for what appears on Sunday morning. Good stuff. I'm excited! You?

Winds forecast for Saturday night
As always, here's the eBird page for your convenience in predicting what birds are over our heads right now.

Until tomorrow night, good birding everyone!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15th, 2015

Tonight's winds. Click to view live.
Evening folks!

Tonight, high pressure is sending us due easterly winds, a phenomenon that blankets the length of our state. What might migrants be doing in these winds, you ask? Adhering to little in the way of identifiable trends, birds are showing up as sporadic blue noise across the state. While northern and southwestern Illinois radar expose light migration (the densest concentrations of the night), the rest of the state is witness to even lighter movements as well. If you're up and at 'em tonight, take a look at the radar! Watch as sporadic migrations cause shimmering blue ripples over Illinois skies, appearing and disappearing unpredictably in the radar's mosaic of blues, greens, and black. This effect will be especially beautiful to watch in animated radar sources, like this.

Overall, though, tomorrow should show few notable influxes, except perhaps in northern Illinois and southwestern Illinois. Note also that the areas of heaviest migration concentrations may shift as the night goes on. As of now, however, likelihood seems greatest that any influxes will be most notable in the above mentioned areas.
Note the beautiful
mosaic of blue and
black in tonight's

The forecast continues to change before our eyes (see postscript). Where before winds were forecast to be stronger and southerly on Thursday night, no such forecast exists now. Instead, the next few days are forecast to be complicated by slow-moving high pressure. Tomorrow night, as it oozes across the Prairie State, winds will be confused, inconsistent, and overall very weak. It is tough to say whether or not birds will be migrating then; I'll be interested to see. Winds are forecast to get a little more decisive from there, with southerly-based winds predicted for Friday and Saturday nights. The most important thing to keep track of will be the passage of high pressure, and how these systems influence when birds choose to move. I'll be watching with you.

With that, I hereby call this migration report to a close. In case you remain curious about what birds may be around tomorrow, visit our perpetually handy eBird page.

Until tomorrow night, good birding all!


A fascinating juxtaposition. On the left is the current wind forecast for midnight on Thursday, April 16th. On the right is yesterday's forecast for the same time. What does this show us? Meteorology is a field rife with innumerable variables and constant change. It's amazing to think of what we do in analyzing this, and then placing ornithological variables on top!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14th, 2015

Radar tonight...note the
avian blue noise all over
the northern half of IL
Hey folks,

While tonight the Prairie State is covered by unfavorable northeasterly winds, there's some interesting migration phenomena that make it worth halving the state. Since it's late, let's keep it short and dive right in:

While the state overall is receiving northeasterly winds, winds in the northern half of the state are slightly different. They are both notably weaker and notably more easterly. The weakness of these winds, winds that could hardly be called headwinds, is allowing spotty light migration to occur over the northern half of the state. SO, if you're out tomorrow, especially in northeastern Illinois where migration is most concentrated, there may be some sporadic arrivals and influxes.

As often happens, the wind forecast is changing dynamically for us. Winds tomorrow night are forecast to be southeasterly in the northern half of the state, so we may see some slight migration then. Thursday night, while winds will remain southerly-based, is set to be characterized by weak and indecisive winds. So for the next two nights, we'll probably have some migration, but no wow-factor type movements....yet. 

Tonight's winds. Click
to view live.

Tonight in the southern half of the state, winds remain to be strongly northeasterly, keeping most migrants down. For that reason, with the exception of some very light migration showing up in far Southern Illinois, there's little migration to be had in this half of the state.

Winds forecast for Thursday night.
Looking ahead to the next couple days, things are forecast to get a little friendlier for migratory birds. By tomorrow night, winds will be southeasterly in the Southern third of the state. By Thursday night, winds are forecast to be southerly in both Southern and Central IL, which means, you guessed it, more migration. If the wind forecast changes little, it looks like Friday morning will be the next time to look for new migrants.


So that's that about that. Curious about what birds you'll find out there? Never fear! Click this eBird page for the data you crave.

Best of luck to all those birding tomorrow! It will be especially interesting to see if anything new is reported from Northern Illinois. Until then, good birding all!

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13th, 2015

Tonight's migration...
what migration?
Greetings Illinois,

With extensive storm activity in Southern Illinois and northerly winds in the rest, I'm going to sum up tonight's migration in saying that there is none. While the still may be those intrepid individuals out there moving northward tonight, from a birder's perspective, these are negligible.

How did we lose the favorable conditions of last night so quickly? That's the power of cold fronts, my friends. Driven by the energy in a number of systems*, a rapidly moving cold front cut over the Prairie State today, kicking up moisture on its way. This is undoubtedly part of the reason for tonight's precipitation in Southern Illinois. This cold front cut in from northwest of us, followed by unfavorable northwesterly winds.

*fascinatingly, you can clearly see a high pressure center rotating clockwise west of IL in the wind map here

So, you ask, when might we expect favorable conditions again? Currently, it's forecast that we'll have to wait a few days, as winds are forecast to be southerly-based throughout the state on Thursday night. I'll keep you updated until then.

Winds aloft forecast for Thursday
With that, I must share that essential part of this report: the trust eBird Page. It, along with the latest BirdCast Report, can help you predict the cool things you'll find out there right now. In other news, I added a new page to the Illinois Migration Report blog, Arrivals and Influxes. In it is embedded a live map of winds that allows you to see what winds are doing now and also what winds will be doing the next few days. 2-in-1! Take a look at it by clicking here or by clicking "Live Wind Map" in the page bar above.

That's all for tonight folks! Good luck in all your (birding) endeavors.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 12th, 2015

Tonight's migration...heavier
in S IL than N IL
Evening folks!

Alas, we have another exciting night ahead of us. With the stay of southerly winds over the Prairie State, we're being spoiled by new birds and warmer temperatures. Today was a great day to be out there, with arrivals and influxes described from around the state. Excitingly, it's looking to be equally as productive tomorrow. Favorable conditions are again pushing birds to follow their instincts and move northward. Great.
Tonight's winds. Click to view

Unlike last night, however, there's a slight north-to-south gradient in tonight's migration that is worth noting. The southern half of the state, overall, is dominated by moderate migration (71-227 birds per cubic kilometer of sky). Things in the northern half of the state, however, are a little lighter (59-71 birds per cubic kilometer of sky). Why might this be the case? Hard to say, but it remains entirely possible that migration will rise to moderate concentrations throughout Illinois some time tonight. Any speculations about the current migration gradient are're interpreting as much as I!

Looking ahead at the wind forecast, it may take until Wednesday night to get any more southerly based winds. Unfavorable conditions are set to take over tomorrow during the day, so it looks like little will be moving Monday and Tuesday nights. In other words, for the migrants its refuelling time. Expect to see migrants more thinly distributed during these refuelling times, when they can rely less on what other
Winds forecast for Wednesday night.
Click this image to slide thru the
wind forecast yourself.
migrants are doing and search out food for themselves. Even when migration isn't happening en force, migrant behavior is always interesting. When endeavoring to understand migrant behavior, you never know if you'll learn something totally novel. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting behaviors.

With that, I'll again share our trusty eBird page and the latest BirdCast Forecast to predict what you'll find out there, and then bid you all a good night. 

Thanks for all your reports today! It was exciting to read what Illinois birders were experiencing out there today. Isn't spring exciting?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 11th, 2015

The big story: tonight's migration
Heads up Illinois!

Tonight, as predicted, we've received favorable southerly winds. As a result, tonight's radar has lit up, showing moderate concentrations of birds seizing the opportunity of the strong tailwinds across the Prairie State. Reflecting between 10 and 20 decibels, what the radar is really showing is 71-227 birds per cubic kilometer of sky. There's a lot over our heads, folks. Excitingly, this is the most migration we've seen since April 1st, and as the night goes on, we may even top it. Here's hoping for that!

Tonight's winds. Click to
view live.
Tomorrow morning, arrivals and influxes should be of about the same magnitude anywhere in the state. So, regardless of where you are, if you can, hit your favorite patch! Established migrant traps especially should make for memorable birding tomorrow, but I encourage you to search out those less-birded places that still hold potential. And of course, eBird! What new species might you find tomorrow? Eastern Towhees, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Swamp, Chipping, and Savannah Sparrows, Brown Thrashers, American Bitterns, Chimney Swifts, Soras, Caspian Terns, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Green Herons, and Spotted Sandpipers might all be arriving/influxing. And those are just a few; to get a complete picture, I encourage you to read the latest BirdCast Regional Migration Forecast, and then to check our good ol' eBird page.
Winds forecast for
tomorrow night

In addition to this good news, I'm happy to report that Sunday night should be just as favorable for migration. Southerly winds are forecast to continue into Monday morning. By Monday night, however, a front from northwest of us is forecast to bring unfavorable winds across the state. From there, we'll see what happens!

That's all for tonight, folks! Looking forward to seeing what's out there tomorrow morning.