Sunday, May 5, 2013

Preparing For Migration

Hey Everybody!

Though interest in bird migration in general has always been part of birding, interest in forecasting migration and understanding the weather that affects it seems to be growing these days, especially as technology becomes more pervasive. So, to feed your curiosity, the IL Ornithological Society and IL Young Birders have decided to begin our own regional BirdCast-type project. Daily, I will be delivering a report both of what migration has played out in the past 24 hours, and what to expect in the next 24 hours. I will send out the first of these emails later this evening as the sun sets and the first migrants start moving. First, I wanted to share with you all some resources for understanding migration live with the use of Radar.

So without further adieu, here are some resources I use to track migration and weather. These are going to be my best friends in the coming months, and if you want to follow migration, they should be yours too:

  • - Monitor radar, surface winds, and higher altitude winds. This is probably the most valuable resource, as you can track the reflectivity and velocity live as well as back in the past 6 days. It's awesome.
  • - Simpler radar display. Look for blue, donut-shaped forms that appear after sunset. These are birds.
  • - Just what I use for surface analysis. Look for fronts pointing north. If you look now, there's a warm front moving due north, which is driven by a nearby low-pressure system. Low pressure systems spin counterclockwise, so we will always experience southerly winds when east of a low pressure system.

Overall tutorials about migration, Radar Ornithology, and related topics can be found at the following sources. I encourage you to use them if you're interested:

Finally, the Cornell Lab et al. have a website called BirdCast (, which posts weekly forecasts and analysis.

That's all the introductory stuff, folks. I know it's a lot, but we only need to do this once. I guess I just like sharing too much. Keep an eye out for my first migration report. It should be relatively exciting tonight compared to the past few days.

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