Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27th, 2014

Low pressure and
a cold front
Evening everyone!

Tonight's migration
With the arrival of low pressure systems into our area, we again are experiencing favorable southerly winds. But alas, like last night, the migrants are really thinned out in numbers, and again we are only seeing light migration throughout the state. If there were any night to facilitate the final heavy movements of the spring, tonight would be the night, but it already feels like the last of what we call heavy was already long ago. So tonight, migration may fill out a little bit more by later in the night, but overall there shouldn't be too much influx anywhere in the Prairie State. So that's that.

Tonight's winds
Though this pattern of light migration is likely to continue until migration is finished altogether, it may still be worthwhile to look at the wind forecast. Sadly, they're not encouraging (N & Cent. IL wind forecast, S IL wind forecast). A cold front is beginning its passage from the north of us into Illinois tonight, and by the time it has engulfed the entire state on Thursday afternoon, winds will be east-northeasterly throughout the state. The favorable conditions of tonight will last longer in southern IL, but it seems this cold front may be the ceremonious end of any distinct spring migration. Not only will it be a conclusion to migration--though migration never really ends--it will also be a cue to shift focus to the fascinating ecology of breeding birds, and I hope you'll all join me in that!

That's all for tonight! Here's the eBird Frequency Chart to predict your findings.

Good birding!

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26th, 2014

Last night's migration
Greetings all,

My sincerest apologies for the lack of a report last night. I had a family gathering of sorts that went a little later than expected, and sadly, not even the birds migrating over us could keep me awake. And there were birds over our heads last night, though it depends on where you are. Looking at the radar from the peak of last night, it shows that in most places throughout the state--save northern IL where migration was moderate--migration was ultimately light. This is in spite of the favorable southerly winds we were experiencing.

Tonight's winds
Looking at tonight, we again have favorable southerly flow. And again, in spite of this, migration has followed a similar pattern with light concentrations throughout the state. This could be because the birds aren't favoring the relatively high pressure over us, but if earlier this spring is any evidence of the contrary, I have another hypothesis.

Dare a say migration in winding down?

Though late spring migrants are still passing through, the bulk of the spring migrants we all observed are far north of us by now, busy with the deliberation of territories and the selection of mates. They passed by us in an exciting flash of color and sound, and now many of them are gone...for now.

Tonight's migration
But we'll save the season's sentimental wrap-up for later. For now, tomorrow may still see some influx in your area amongst the now greater variety of breeding birds. This interaction between species still migrating and species beginning their breeding season is always fascinating, and I encourage you all to get out there and be your own bird ethologists!

Looking ahead into the crystal ball of wind forecasting (N & Cent. IL wind forecast: http://bit.ly/1gqPFCAv, S IL wind forecast: http://bit.ly/124R3WX), we see that in the current high pressure, winds are forecast to remain weak and confusedly southerly-based at least through Wednesday, taking on a more westerly component by then as well. We'll see what that brings us.

But for now, here's the eBird frequency chart. And with that, I bid you all a goodnight!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24th, 2014

Tonight's winds

Evening everyone!

Winds have at last began to shift away from their previously northerly direction tonight, as they are now easterly. As it happens, they're coming through pretty weakly, so by late tonight, birds may be moving diagonally across the state (from southeast of us to northwest of us) in at least moderate concentrations. But thus far tonight, migration through our state has been pretty sparse. Moderate migration is currently occurring in the northern third of our state, but elsewhere migration is pretty much light. So unless the birds pick up the pace a little bit more tonight, tomorrow morning shouldn't be a time of explosive avian variety. Regardless, migration still has a huge variety of birds deposited around our state, so if you can get out there tomorrow, do it!

Radar at the time of this post
Looking ahead a few days, winds are finally set to return to their southerly position tomorrow morning, and are forecast to remain so throughout the state at least through Monday. So tomorrow night especially, the skies should be hoppin' with birds.

That's all for tonight, folks. The state's pretty uniformly mellow tonight, so there's not too much reason to divide up by region. Still, here's the eBird page to predict what you'll be finding tomorrow.

Happy birding!

Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23rd, 2014

Hey folks,

So tonight, as the unfavorably northerly winds have weakened pretty considerably, birds are actually migrating in moderate concentrations throughout the state, a surprise to me especially. I am constantly inspired by the tenacity of neotropical migrants, and any influxes we see tomorrow will be evidence of that. The state is remarkably uniform with migration tonight, but unlike last night, it may be heaviest in Central Illinois. Keep an eye on the radar! Things may change in unforeseen ways through the night.

Winds tonight
Looking forward (N & Cent. IL wind forecast: http://bit.ly/1gqPFCAv, S IL wind forecast: http://bit.ly/124R3WX), after winds become very weak and easterly tomorrow, winds are forecast finally to become southerly by late Sunday morning. So while the birds may still be moving tomorrow night, Sunday night may see the heaviest migration of the weekend.

So, if you can, get out there and test how much migration is happening! Here's the eBird page for predicting what you'll be finding.

That's all for tonight, folks! The state is now very unified, but we'll see this break up in days to come. Here's looking forward to the rapidly approaching last final push of spring migration!

Good birding!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22nd, 2014

Evening all,

Tonight, as forecast, the winds have become unfavorably northerly, and the average concentrations of migration tonight are light to moderate. This is, however, a time of year where many birds cannot miss a beat to move northward, and out of the millions of individual migrants moving through our state right now, some of them are moving in heavy concentrations. Dividing the state up by thirds wouldn't be as useful tonight, so let's take migration tonight on a case-by-case basis.

Northeastern Illinois (see right) is somewhat isolated from the light migration in the rest of northern and central Illinois, as according to the radar, it is currently host to moderate to heavy migration. This may be because of some alteration of the winds caused by Lake Michigan, as migration is also heavy in southeastern Wisconsin. But beyond that, the reasons for such movement tonight in northerly winds is beyond me. But hey, no complaints here!

As stated, migration in the majority of the rest of the state is light to negligible except for Southern Illinois (See left). Much of Southern Illinois remains host to only light concentrations, but the further south you go, the closer toward moderate levels you get. By sometime tonight, it seems likely that the furthest southern radar station in Illinois will be relaying images of heavy migration, so to any of you southern Illinois night-owls, this may be worth keeping an eye on. Like in Northern Illinois, I have only a shaky hypothesis to explain this at best.Winds right around far Southern Illinois are actually almost due westerly, though most of these winds are south of Illinois. Without the northerly influence of the winds, birds may be utilizing the westerly winds. But that's all I've got. Regardless, there may still be some influx tomorrow!

So that's that. Other than the named exceptions, migration is basically light in the Prairie State.

The winds are set to change throughout the state pretty soon, folks (N & Cent. IL wind forecast: http://bit.ly/1gqPFCAv, S IL wind forecast: http://bit.ly/124R3WX). Late Friday night, winds are forecast to shift to be more easterly, and by early saturday morning, these winds are forecast to become southeasterly, a definite improvement from our current northerly winds. So we all have that to look forward to.

Anyway, here's the eBird frequency chart to check out what birds may be around right now: http://bit.ly/1nS3bao

And with that, I bid you all a good night. Good birding!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20th, 2014

Hey folks!

So before the arrival of a cold front from Northwest of us into the Prairie State, birds are getting one more night with favorable, southerly winds. Birds in Central and Southern Illinois especially are moving with moderate to heavy concentrations right now, and that concentration will probably increase as the night progresses. Northern Illinois, on the other hand, is dominated by precipitation tonight, and probably will not see much movement. Let's take a look by region:

Northern Illinois:
As said, Northern Illinois is currently occupied by large and energetic areas of storm activity thanks to the approach of a cold front. Winds in North-central and northwestern Illinois are much calmer than in the rest of the state (or even in northeastern Illinois), and this lack of a significant tailwind is the second blow to migration in Northern Illinois overall. So, it seems that tomorrow morning will come about without the arrival and influx of much but rain, though birds will probably be moving in some concentrations around the margins of the storms. So that's that. Moving on to what we'll be seeing in the next few days, winds are forecast to be thoroughly northwesterly by tomorrow afternoon. After that, the winds will become more due northerly and last in that form at least through Thursday. So again, we find ourselves in a migratory hiatus after tomorrow afternoon.

Central Illinois:
Mostly avoiding the precipitation in Northern Illinois, Central Illinois is a stage set for migration tonight. Movement is already moderate and will likely become heavy by later tonight. Winds remain to be southerly, and the birds are riding them. So get out there and find the migrants tomorrow while they're still moving! Tomorrow night, with the passage of a cold front, winds will become northerly and by extension unfavorable. According to the wind forecast, they'll be grounded like us primates at least through Thursday night.

Southern lllinois:
As far as tonight has developed in Southern Illinois skies, Southern Illinois is currently host to the heaviest migration around the state (SW IL, S-central IL, SE IL). With strong and direct southerly winds, the birds are travelling northward from the Southern States. So tomorrow morning, expect some definite arrivals and influx. Like southern Illinois often does, it is luckier than the rest of the state with its wind forecast. The cold front and its northerly winds are forecast to take until late Thursday morning to overtake Southern Illinois, so Wednesday night should also see some movement in Southern Illinois is not anywhere else.

So that's that! Here's my secret weapon of bird migration prediction (eBird).

And with that, I bid you all adieu. Good birding!

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19th, 2014

And we're back ladies and gentlemen!

Yay! Warm front from the
My apologies for my brief hiatus from my migration report writing. The camping I did over the weekend was wonderfully fulfilling, with experiences like being incredibly close to a Prothonotary Warbler and a Bald Eagle (not at the same time) while kayaking. I do feel bad about missing you all, especially last night. Last night (as in Sunday night for you morning readers) was a great night for the birds. As a low pressure system began making its way toward us and high pressure was moving away, southerly winds gave birds some nice tailwinds to cruise up northward. At that point, migration was sitting right around moderate concentrations, with some areas reaching the heavy mark.

Moderate migration tonight
Tonight shows about the same pattern, in the surface analysis, wind map, and radar. Throughout our long and flat state, winds are south/southeasterly tonight and migration is light to moderate. Strange, eh? I hesitate to suspect that migration may actually being dying down already; there may be some condition on there unbeknownst to me that is inhibiting migration, as with these conditions I would expect heavy movement. I may very well be that migration will be heavy by midnight tonight. Best way to meter it? Get out there tomorrow! It is very likely that there will be some arrivals and influxes, with later-migrating spring species showing now en masse.

Tonight's winds
Cool! So how about some wind forecast? Winds in Northern and Central Illinois seem to be united on a common path the next few days. Southerly winds are forecast to continue at least through Tuesday night, but starting Wednesday morning, winds will begin shifting to be more westerly, and eventually unfavorably northerly by Wednesday evening. So at least for this first half of the week, tomorrow will probably the best day for some migrant mixup. Southern Illinois is only slightly more likely, with winds forecast to last southerly through Tuesday. The winds will then shift to be more westerly with the approach of a front from the north, and will remain so at least through Wednesday evening. More on that to come!

Cool! Here's the eBird frequency chart for predicting what will be migrating right now.

Good stuff everyone. Good birding!

Nick Minor, on behalf of the Illinois Ornithological Society and the Illinois Young Birders' Club

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15th, 2014

The big L
Hey folks!

An interesting, though not very migrant-filled report tonight. Currently, a low pressure system is sitting over north-central Illinois, and looking at the wind map, its counterclockwise rotation is obvious. Unfortunately, in most areas, this rotation means unfavorable winds, be they westerly, easterly, or northerly. Only in a small slice of Illinois are the winds southerly, and a storm system is currently sitting right over that area. Storm activity is also present around the center of the system. Needless to say, there isn't much migration occurring tonight (moderate at most in some places), but it's interesting to watch the winds of the low pressure system, especially on such a beautiful wind map.

Tonight's winds
Looking now into the future, winds in Northern and Central Illinois are forecast to become northwesterly tomorrow, and then become weaker and weaker as they become more directly westerly on Saturday. All this activity should be unfavorable for the migrants, but birds will probably be moving Saturday night in the weak winds, as by then, the winds will likely take on a more southerly component. Keep an eye on that for sure. The southern Illinois forecast follows the same pattern but is slightly less lucky. With the introduction of high pressure tomorrow, winds will become weaker but are forecast to remain essentially northwesterly through Saturday at least. So it seems that throughout the state, especially in Southern Illinois, the migrants' resting period is being extended.

Predict what you'll find out there here.

One final note. Tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday night I will be out camping, and will be unable to post migration reports. Never fear, though! You can make your own observations and predictions here:
Surface Analysis: http://bit.ly/ZmucFO
Wind map: http://bit.ly/1sU4LZl
National Composite Radar: http://bit.ly/ZJd7mw
Radar with specific sites in IL: http://bit.ly/1kJgk5e
Wind forecast for Northern and Central IL: http://bit.ly/14neVJd
Wind forecast for Central and Southern IL: http://bit.ly/124R3WX
eBird Illinois Bird Frequency Page: http://bit.ly/1nS3bao

And that's all for tonight, folks! Until Sunday night, over and out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14th, 2014

Tonight's unfavorable winds
 Hiya everyone,

So, it's going to be another short one tonight. Not only are winds almost due northerly tonight, but a wide band of storm systems is passing through Illinois, so if there was any migration in Illinois last night, there should be even less tonight. So that's that.

Looking ahead in time (N and Central IL, S IL), winds are forecast to remain northerly in Northern and Central Illinois at least through Friday, whereas winds in Southern Illinois are forecast to have shifted to be more westerly by that point. Still no clearly favorable conditions in sight yet, but I'll be sure to tell you all when they come!

So as said yesterday, get out there and enjoy the migrants stuck here for the time being, studying such things as behavior. You may observe something new to you or perhaps even new to ornithology. Can't know if you don't look, so get out there if you can! Here's a the page to predict your findings.

Cheers everyone, and happy birding!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13th, 2014

The enormous cold front from
Evening Prairie-staters,

Alas, after last night's violent expression of nature's meteorological power, winds are unfavorable tonight. If you were to take a gander at the radar right now, Illinois would look very close to how it does during the day throughout the state, with almost no bird-like noise. In the wake of last night's cold front from northwest of us (see the huge front now passing over Ohio, Kentucky, etc.), Illinois is subject to unfavorable northwesterly winds. And unfortunately (for us, not necessarily the birds), these winds are forecast to continue throughout the state at least through Thursday (N and Central IL, S IL).
Tonight's winds

As everything can be a blessing in disguise, however, this may be the birds' much-needed period of rest and refueling from their intense, hormone-driven migration. Behaviors exhibited by migrants, especially when interacting in mixed flocks with other migrants--or even with breeding residents--can be fascinating to the discerning observer. I encourage you all to get out there and make ornithologists of yourselves...I'd love to hear about it! Here's the list of bird frequencies.

Tonight's sorry radar
Sadly, that's all I've got for tonight. The next few days will be ones of short, repetitive migration reports, or at least until the winds shift.

Cheers everyone! And happy birding!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11th, 2014

Tonight's surface analysis
Hey all!

Migration has found its way into full swing, and we birders in Illinois have noticed. Tons of you were out birding today...my inbox chimed from my phone with more than 50 reports from around the state! Compare that to some days in February when I received four at most, and two of those were eBird alerts.

Tonight, in the wake of storm activity today and last night, the doors have finally opened for migration. After this last storm system passes out of western Illinois, Illinois skies will be open and full of southerly winds for the birds. Tonight has already been a night of explosive migration, so let's take a look by region:

Northern Illinois:
Tonight's winds
Northern Illinois, at least so far tonight, has received the short end of the stick. Migration is even on the light NE Illinois. The storm system that passed over N Illinois today is still dragging its tail out of a region south of the city, and this is blocking birds from moving up over Chicago and beyond. This is especially obvious in an area just north of the severe storm's final act in Illinois, where there is no migration whatsoever. NW Illinois is slightly harder to explain. Thanks to the contents of tonight's slightly convoluted surface analysis, winds are slightly southwesterly, so this may be facilitating less migration. Regardless, it's seems likely that migration well pick up as the night goes on, but there will be slightly less influx, and slightly fewer arrivals, in Northern Illinois than in the rest of the Prairie State. So that's that. As far as the wind forecast goes, winds are forecast to remain southerly until Tuesday morning, when winds will become westerly thanks to the arrival of a cold front. Until then, the only thing deterring birds will be storm activity (like what will pass through tomorrow), so live it up in the field when you can!
side of moderate right now. I can explain this at least in
The point on Tuesday when the cold
front from the west will bring W

Central Illinois:
As if to make up for the lack of migration in many areas last night, Central Illinois skies are currently host to explosive amounts of migration, pushing at extreme level concentrations. Tomorrow should be an outrageously good day to bird Central IL, so if you can, get out there! So how long will it continue, then? Winds are forecast to shift from their current southerly position to a more westerly one by Tuesday morning, and after that point, winds will be shifting up to northwesterly, so live it up tomorrow while you still can! Favorable winds won't be lasting much longer this week!

Southern Illinois:
Southern Illinois has a similar story tonight. Migration is extremely heavy like in Central Illinois (SW ILS-central ILSE IL), and tomorrow should be a fantastic day to bird Southern Illinois (although when isn't a good time to bird Southern Illinois?). The forecast is also the same for S Illinois, with winds forecast to become westerly and then northwesterly starting Tuesday morning. So if you can, get out there and enjoy the birds tomorrow!

So there's the forecast, ladies and gentlemen. The bottom two thirds of the state are witness to enormous migration tonight, while the top third is witness to slightly lighter movement, at least for now. We'll see how this lays out. Here's the eBird page to predict which birds you'll find tomorrow.

Thanks everyone! Have a great day tomorrow!

Nick Minor, on behalf of the Illinois Ornithological Society and the Illinois Young Birders' Club

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10th, 2014

Tonight's winds
Hey everybody!

Last night's (5/9)
Sorry I missed you all last night. It wasn't the biggest night of migration anyways; the high pressure system predicted to ram right through the center of the state did just that. This confused and weakened the winds considerably and brought in some precipitation as well, so migration was only light to moderate. Today was still a fantastic day to bird...warblers, vireos, thrushes, sparrows, and all manner of mid- to late spring migrants are getting into the full swing of their migration, and species counts right now are about as full as they're going to get. That gets me excited, and I envy you who had the opportunity to bird today. It sounds like it was amazing in some places!

Anyhow, onward to tonight. The state of Illinois is now safely back into the realm of definite southerly winds, as we're in an area of the atmosphere right in the backside of a high pressure system, and the frontside of a low pressure system. Both of these circumstances give us southerly flow, and tonight, it's southwesterly, which is slightly less favorable, but favorable enough to get the birds moving. As mentioned though, precipitation is moving through certain parts of the Prairie State, so let's take a look at that by region. A particularly interesting circumstance has developed in Southern Illinois as a result.

Northern Illinois:
Migration in NW IL
Winds are a little bit weaker in Northern Illinois right now, but at least along the lake in northeastern Illinois, the skies are hopping with birds. Moderate to heavy migration is currently occurring over northeastern Illinois. Likely because the storm moving into Central Illinois is just south of NW IL is eclipsing migration, the story is slightly different in northwestern Illinois, where light to moderate migration is taking place. Chances are, migration will pick up there as the night goes on, so if you're up late, ya might as well check the radar and find out (if you'll be birding in NW IL tomorrow). Looking forward, the wind forecast remains to be pretty good to N IL, with the overall trend being favorable southerly winds at least until Monday evening. We'll keep our eyes out for what comes next.

Migration in Central IL
Central Illinois:
Looking first at the radar, we see that Central Illinois is the unlucky section of the state to receive the worst (or most energetic) storms of the night. The system moving in is large enough to cover most of this third of the state, and will basically shut down migration as long as it takes to move through. Places in the far eastern end of Central Illinois will probably see some influx tomorrow, as migration is moderate away from the storm. Also, if you're in that section of the state, be on the lookout for fallout if the storm begins moving into your area early tomorrow morning, as the birds will be forced to land in the approaching storm. Overall, tonight will not see a huge amount of migration in Central Illinois. Looking forward, the forecast is the same in Central as it is in Northern Illinois, and is just as good. Southerly winds are forecast to continue at least until Monday evening, and birds will follow as long as they flow.

Southern Illinois:
Heavy migration just south of
Central Illinois' storm
Though some areas will probably be affected by the storm activity in Central Illinois, Southern Illinois is witness to an explosion of heavy migration tonight. Anywhere you look with the radar (SW IL, S-central IL, SE IL), migration is heavy, and those migrants will likely be flying right into the storms of Central Illinois. Not necessarily good for them, but this is exciting news for some. Looking at the national composite radar, if you will be birding anywhere along the southern border of Central Illinois's storm tomorrow, you may find some insane arrivals and influxes in migrant traps, which could be your favorite local birding spots. As migrants fly full speed ahead into the storm in Central Illinois tonight, they will be forced to the ground in the inclement conditions aloft, and will be forced to wait it out there. If the storm takes long enough to move east, birds may be forced to wait all the way through the night, and an excitingly large number of those birds will simply be there as the sun rises. Influx will probably be excitingly substantial all over Southern Illinois tomorrow, but this boundary will probably be some of the best birding in the state if this prediction plays out. This all depends on the movement of that storm tonight, so I would love for you to get out there and prove or disprove this prediction! Like Central and Northern Illinois, winds are forecast to remain favorably southerly in Southern Illinois at least through Monday evening, so there can't be a bad time to bird for migrants!

Awesome! Interesting stuff happening tonight...I'll be interested to hear what happens tomorrow. Predict what you'll find here.

That's all for tonight, folks! Over and out.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8th, 2014

Hey all,

Today was a great day to be a birder. After the monstrous migration we experience last night, arrivals and influxes were apparent throughout the day. Shorebirds, swifts, Caprimulgids, vireos, sparrows, orioles, tanagers, and thrushes are all coming in now in substantial variety, and we appear to be getting into the full swing of warblers. Warm weather and lots of good birds...beat that!

Tonight, as far as winds go, the state is unified in favorable conditions. Strong, southerly winds are still rising up all the way from the Gulf of Mexico and bringing migrants with them. Except for one thing. The cold front due in Illinois in about 12 hours from northwest of us is pushing a large line of storm activity ahead of it, and for this reason we have extensive precipitation up and down the Prairie State tonight. The story is essentially the same throughout the state, so there's little reason to divide the report up tonight. The storms are moving through Illinois right now west to east, and wherever they pass over they will effectively block migration. Areas
outside of the rains tonight my experience moderate to heavy migration...it just depends on how calm the skies are wherever you are. We'll see what happens tomorrow morning, but influxes very likely will be much smaller than today's.

Just before tomorrow's
cold front gets here...
Looking forward a bit, the cold front coming in from northwest of us will make landfall in northwest Illinois in approximately 9 hours, and as it moves through the Prairie State tomorrow it will bring its west-southwesterly winds behind it. These will be slightly less favorable, but we'll probably still see some migration tomorrow and tomorrow night. On Saturday, a little high pressure system is forecast to come right through our state, weakening and confusing our winds during the day a bit. Thankfully, it looks like wind will again be southerly by Saturday night, when heavy migration should resume!

Good stuff! Predict what you'll find out there here.

Have a great night everyone, and good birding!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 7th, 2014

Tonight's exciting Surface Analysis
Evening everyone!

Everything is happening as predicted...the northbound warm front has passed through Illinois, just now moving out of the northern edge of the state. In its wake, as pointed out astutely by Robert Hughes on IBF, are powerful southerly winds coming all the way up from the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say, we should witness migration tonight at a scale we haven't seen yet this year. Migration on the radar is already on the high end of moderate, and concentrations are increasing with every update of the image. Keep an eye on this on the right sidebar.

As the state is entirely engulfed by southerly winds, there's not

much point in dividing the report up by region! Throughout the state tonight, we should expect heavy migration, peaking in concentrations just after midnight. I would not be surprised if some areas were host to almost 2,000 birds per cubic kilometer above our heads...if it's overcast in your area, tonight may be a great time to listen for nocturnal flight calls, if you'll be up that late. Tonight may mark the first big passage of Swainson's Thrush, so listening for that may provide results. All said, everything is in our (and the migrants') favor tonight, and tomorrow should be spectacular in migrants traps like the lakefront. So get out there!
Migration at the time of this post
Moderate now, heavy soon.

These incredibly favorable conditions should last through tomorrow night, but by Friday morning, a cold front is forecast to pass through from the Northwest (48-hour Surface Analysis Forecast). This front will bring much less favorable WNW winds. These will first dominate Northern Illinois, then Central Illinois, and finally Southern Illinois by Friday night, and moving with this cold front will be a long line of storm systems. So, Friday morning will probably see lots of influx if you're willing to bird in the rain. The timing of this, of course, depends on where you are; we'll just have to wait and see!

48-hour Surface Analysis
Curious what birds you'll find? Check eBird for that valuable information.

Thats all for now, folks! Au revoir and good birding!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6th, 2014

Hey everyone!

Tonight is a night in which the surface analysis could deceive us. Looking at it now, we see an alternating front of north-facing warm, and south-facing blue; this is a stationary front. The cold air mass forecast to have been pushed northward by the low pressure system mentioned yesterday is putting up a good fight, and as a result southerly winds are expanding through the Prairie State a little more slowly than expected. The winds are still predominantly easterly in Central and Northern Illinois. No matter, as the birds are moving in legitimate concentrations already throughout the state. Let's take a look:

Northern Illinois:
The northern third of our state is experiencing the lightest migration of anywhere in the state, but by no means does this mean no birds are moving. Moderate concentrations of birds are migrating aloft right now (radar for NW IL, NE IL). These concentrations are likely to increase toward the middle of the night, as it appears that the air mass on top of us will finally give way to southerly winds through the night. Interestingly, they are doing so without the diagonal orientation they used to ride the easterly winds last night. Regardless, even where winds are least favorable throughout the state, birds are flying northward with gusto. How about the next few days? Good news, folks! Favorable southerly winds should be the rule throughout the state by tomorrow morning, and these winds are forecast to last at least through Thursday evening, though they will probably last longer. So get out there! Tomorrow should see some arrivals and influxes, and day migrants will not be excluded from this. Chimney Swifts, raptors, terns, shorebirds, and waterfowl should all be on the wing...it just takes you to find them! Good stuff.
Migration over Central IL. Bird concentrations reflecting
more than 20 decibels qualifies as heavy migration.

Central Illinois:
The central third of the Prairie State, while still in the influence of predominantly easterly winds, is also experiencing the oncoming influence of southerly winds, brought in by a warm front from the south. For that reason, concentrations of birds aloft are in the heavy category, with approximately 227-1788 birds per cubic kilometer. Awesome, eh? Tomorrow morning should be great for birding as warm temps from the south arrive with new birds. And it only gets better. By tomorrow morning, winds should be southerly throughout the state, and these winds are forecast to be strong and due from the south in Central IL. These winds are forecast last at least through Thursday, and will probably last longer than that, so get out there! As I mentioned in the Northern Illinois section, day migrants are not excluded from this, so influx of migrants should be very interesting in you local patches as diurnal migrants pass through a new cast of nocturnal migrants. An interesting time to observe behavior indeed.

Southern Illinois:
Wind forecast showing strong, southerly flow for tomorrow
This is probably the simplest section of the report, as the story here remains the same! Southern Illinois is, has been, and will remain awesome for migrant birds. The southerly winds experienced there for the past few days are again facilitating heavy migration tonight (radar for SW IL, S-central IL, and SE IL), and they will likely do the same at least through Thursday, when the wind forecast I use stops. It is likely, however, that the favorable conditions and they heavy migration they bring will last longer than that. Diurnal migrants will also continue to be moving, so migrant influx in your favorite patches should be very interesting indeed. So get out and enjoy the opportunity to bird in springtime Southern Illinois!

Awesome. Tonight's turning out to be a good night! Predict the birds you'll be finding here.

That's all for tonight, folks! Godspeed in your birding endeavors.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5th, 2014

Tonight's winds...the cold front still starkly
visible. This cold front will be pushed
northward starting tomorrow, and the
favorable southerly winds beneath will
expand into the rest of the state.
Hey folks!

I hope you all had a good day birding. With birds like Harris's Sparrow, American Avocet,  Upland Sandpiper, and Black-throated Gray Warbler among today's many reports, it seems like many of you did enjoy birding the migration today. Movements last night actually became heavier after I published the report, and arrivals and influxes throughout the state were evidence of this. The onset of heavy spring arrivals and influxes remain rather protracted, as species counts are only creeping up (except in Southern Illinois). The birds, just like the leaves, are taking their time.

So how about tonight? As predicted, wind maps relay that winds have become much more northerly everywhere in the state except for far southern Illinois. As expected, most of the birds don't want to mess with these chilly northeasterly headwinds, and are staying put for a good night's sleep. In Southern Illinois, tailwinds are still strong and direct, and birds there are hopping on for the ride. Looking forward, we can now actually see what will bring favorable conditions back on the surface analysis forecast. We'll get to that later. Let's take a look at what's over our heads by region:

Northern Illinois:
Tonight's radar...light in N and Central
IL...heavy in Southern Illinois.
Tonight, Northern Illinois is host to some rather adamant migrants that insist on battling the headwinds for a position further north. Looking at the radar, birds are moving northwest-ward in moderate concentrations in Northeast IL, and in light concentrations in Northwest IL (NW IL appears to be out, but here's the link, and here's NE IL). Lake Michigan may have something to do with this discrepancy, but your guess is as good as mine here. Anyway, I wouldn't expect any huge arrivals or influxes tomorrow morning, though there will definitely be some mixing of migrants in your area. But for the most part, birds are refueling right now, a fascinating time to observe migrant behavior. Looking forward, around 2 PM tomorrow afternoon, a low pressure system moving in from the west will move into Kansas. Its counterclockwise winds will be in perfect position to push the cold front sitting over South-central Illinois northward, at which point the front will become a northward-moving warm front. This front will move rather quickly through the Prairie State, and by 8 AM Wednesday, it will have brought favorable southerly winds to almost all of Illinois (wind forecast here). So Wednesday morning, and even more so Thursday morning, should be very good birding indeed. Good stuff.

THIS is the big news, that warm front...it's the above
mentioned front moving northward. Beneath it will be
favorable, southerly winds.
Central Illinois:
Central Illinois is also host to some courageous migrants fighting the headwinds, with moderate migration occurring throughout. Like in Northern Illinois, this concentration of movement likely won't last through the night, and tomorrow morning will probably only result in a light mixup of the birds in your local patch. Tomorrow is a refueling time at least for neotropical migrants, and there is hardly a better time to observe migrant behavior, especially that of their social interactions, than during refueling periods. So get out there and share what you observe! The wind forecast in Central IL is the same as Northern Illinois; the only difference is that favorable conditions come sooner! By tomorrow afternoon, a counterclockwise-rotating low pressure system in Kansas will push northward the boundary between the favorable winds in Southern Illinois and the cold, northerly winds of the rest of the state. Thanks to this system, winds should be favorably southerly by tomorrow night, so get your binocs ready for Thursday!

Heavy Migration over Southern IL
Southern Illinois:
Looking at national, composite radar, Southern Illinois--along with southern Indiana--stands out from the surrounding area with the heaviness of its migration. Birds are moving in heavy concentrations over S. IL tonight, as favorable southerly winds have remained there through the less favorable easterly and northeasterly winds seen in the rest of the state. So tomorrow should be great for observing arrivals and influxes (radar for SW IL, S-central IL, and SE IL)! Southern Illinois will be the refuge for migrants waiting to move northward once the right conditions present themselves...I can only imagine how the radar will ignite throughout the state in bright greens and blues when the time comes. Anyway, the wind forecast is equally good to Southern Illinois. Southerly winds are forecast to continue at least through the end of the forecast period on Wednesday evening, but looking at the movement of low pressure systems in the area, they will probably last longer. So sit back and enjoy the show!

Click me to predict the future

Cool! To predict for yourself what birds you'll be seeing tomorrow, here's my secret weapon from eBird.

And that's all I've got folks! Have a great night and happy birding!