Sunday, May 5, 2013

4/19 IL Migration Report

What a weird day...not only did I see a lot of good birds today, but many diurnal migrants were actually observed migrating south, but we'll get to this soon.

First off, today seemed like a recollection of winter, with temperatures around freezing in some places, as well as snow, sleet, and everything in between pushed in from the West. Winds were quite strong today, and along with very cold temperatures and precipitation around much of the state, even day migration was at a minimum. The most notable factor that defined today was a sort of reverse migration, wherein birds that migrate north on what would normal be the correct schedule are forced to move south again to avoid inclement weather or sparsity of food to refuel (this is a suggested explanation, and not by any measure considered a definitive explanation's just the best one I've found). Regardless of why, and suggestions are welcome, many species, including most swallows, notably CLIFF SWALLOW were observed moving lightly in most places but heavily along the lakeshore, presumably with the Southwesterly winds present only in NE IL. Icterids were also still on the move, with RUSTY BLACKBIRD and BREWER'S BLACKBIRD being observed moving even in Northern IL. Raptors and shorebirds, two more powerful groups of migrants, were moving very lightly during the day, with the highlights being a SWAINSON'S HAWK in Ogle County, and AMERICAN AVOCETS moving in a couple counties. As in this weather, though, these migratory sightings were isolated. Do not expect any heavy or moderate movements tonight as high pressure takes over most of the continent, as the state all the way into higher altitudes where birds would be migrating is dominated by powerful west winds (, and cloud cover would blind birds to the stars, which aren't necessarily essential, but are a big part of navigation.

So, tomorrow, expect the same type of conditions for migration most of the day. But as we continue to see in Keith McMullen's and others' reports, birds are spring-loaded to migrate north toward most of us
Illinoisans. Slightly more favorable conditions should present themselves either late tomorrow or later tomorrow night, when our position on the back end of the currently passing high pressure system should bring southerly winds, granted, they'll be weak winds, back into our state. This should only be a moderate improvement to the current conditions, and night migration should really start back up on a more massive level when a low pressure system moves toward us Sunday night. It will be interesting to see what starts to move tomorrow before the major improvements in conditions come into play.

Keep an eye out for birds like AMERICAN BITTERNS, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, SORAS, VIRGINIA RAILS, any moving shorebirds, CHIMNEY SWIFTS, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, BLUE-HEADED and RED-EYED VIREOS, HOUSE WRENS, MARSH WRENS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, GRAY CATBIRDS, all the expected swallows + CLIFF SWALLOW, all the expected sparrows (especially take note of LE CONTE'S SPARROWS, GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS, and LARK SPARROWS), warblers including but not limited to ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS, PINE WARBLERS, YELLOW WARBLERS, HOODED WARBLERS, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULAS and LOUISIANA + NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, WOOD THRUSHES, SWAINSON'S THRUSHES, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, INDIGO BUNTINGS, SCARLET and SUMMER TANAGERS, BREWER'S, RUSTY, and YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS. Also, note that in this weird weather, many diving ducks are still around; I observed 3 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS today in the same binocular field as a Cliff Swallow. Truly bizarre. Regardless, any information on diving duck concentrations throughout the state are of value and interest--needless to say, your sightings matter, so go birding!

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