Monday, August 31, 2015

Sept 1, 2015

Hello birding friends,

As we can see from the relative dearth of radar noise tonight on the current national composite radar, migration over Illinois is very light because birds are battling southerly headwinds.

The eastern third and southern third of Illinois should expect marginally better avian turnover than the rest of the state tomorrow morning, but overall things should be slow. That's it for today; short and sweet because there is not much activity on which to report.

Because winds are forecast to be unfavorable until NEXT Monday night, very little migration activity should happen until then.

Predict which species you will see and exactly when at:
Birdcast's regional migration forecast
eBird's Illinois species occurrence map

Good birding!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Aug 31, 2015

Hello birding friends,

A shorter report tonight since it is getting late and I have school tomorrow. Although enveloped in southeasterly winds, Illinois is currently experiencing pretty uniform light-to-moderate migration. Concentrations, as seen from the current national composite radar, seem to be a bit higher in the far northern part of the state so tomorrow you should go birding, especially if you live in northern Illinois.

Along with abnormally warm temperatures, winds appear to stay southerly until a week from tomorrow (Monday, September 7) so after tonight there probably won't be any significant new pushes of arrivals and influxes until about then.

So tomorrow you should go birding - you might find some good migrants!

Helpful resources to reference for which species you are likely to encounter and when:
Birdcast's regional migration forecast
eBird's Illinois species occurrence map

Go birding!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Aug 30, 2015

Hello birding friends,

Tonight - as I mentioned last night - is indeed experiencing some very irregular migration patterns. First of all, the frontal boundary that passed through today left behind a complicated wind situation for Illinois. One might be able to grasp from the current wind map (shown as of 10:00pm at right) that winds over the northern third of Illinois are light and northeasterly while the winds over the southern two thirds are of a higher speed and roughly southerly, converging around the Illinois River area and flowing towards the east from there.

These complicated winds are making for patchy and irregular migration tonight. From the current national composite radar (shown as of 10:00pm below & right), it appears that most of Illinois will experience pretty light migration tonight while areas in the northwest, west-central, and southern parts of the state may have slightly more evidence of arrivals and influxes tomorrow morning.

As winds continue to shift overnight; however, migration could, as well, so it would be worth checking those migrant traps in any part of the state tomorrow morning.

I hope this is somewhat clear! Some nights, the weather and resulting migration patterns are just so complicated that it can be a challenge forecasting them. To see exactly which bird species are passing through our area, check out these two very helpful resources:
eBird's Illinois species occurrence map
Birdcast's regional migration forecast

So get out there tomorrow, wherever you are in the state, because although it may not be the biggest push of migrants in the world, it will be possible to find some new arrivals and influxes!

Good birding,


Friday, August 28, 2015

Aug 29, 2015

Hello birding friends,

This will be a more detailed migration report since it is the weekend (...finally!) and there is a bit more to talk about weather-wise.

Tonight Illinois is experiencing little to no migration whatsoever, as is seen by the very, very negligible amount of blue radar noise on the right. Kind of like last night, the far southern tip of Illinois may see some evidence of a bit of movement tomorrow morning but in very light and local concentrations.

This is due to southeasterly winds which are currently flowing across the state ahead of a frontal boundary weather system that will move in later tonight and into tomorrow. This system can be easily seen on the two radar images on the right, updated as of 9:45pm. To see the current radar, click here.

Tomorrow (Saturday) night has a very interesting and uncertain migration forecast. There are many factors to consider:
1. Winds will be flowing east-northeasterly for the first time in quite a few days, possibly spurring on migrants that have been waiting for an opportunity to fly.
2. The skies are forecast to be overcast which could be problematic because some studies suggest that migrating birds rely on the pattern of the stars to fly in the right direction. This could possibly lessen the density of migration tomorrow night.
3. Finally, if you look at the zoomed-out radar image to the right, you will see that some areas behind the frontal boundary such as Nebraska and Kansas are currently experiencing moderate to heavy migration, which we hope will hold true for Illinois tomorrow night!

So I don't really know what to expect for Sunday morning; however, I suspect that there will be quite an uptick in arrivals and influxes. I will monitor the situation closely and and an even more thorough analyzation should be expected in tomorrow night's report.
You can see the southeasterly winds moving across Illinois shown on the current wind map (shown as of 9:45pm at right).

Birdcast just came out with their August 28 - October 4 migration forecast, which can be seen here. This is a passage copied from the forecast which can give you an idea of which species might be moving through our area this week:

"Generally unfavorable migration conditions prevail...this week, with those pulses of movements that occur featuring Green Heron, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher...Common Yellowthroat, and Clay-colored Sparrow...the East sees a return to more summer like conditions until more favorable conditions and associated moderate flights of Common Nighthawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-winged Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Chipping Sparrow come after the middle of the week."

Also,'s Illinois species occurrence map is always a fantastic resource to see historically which species are moving through at this exact time.

So that's it folks. Nonexistent to a negligible amount of arrivals and influxes will occur tomorrow (Saturday) morning, but quite possibly a large push of migrants might come into the state for Sunday morning.

Good birding!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aug 28, 2015

Hello birding friends,

Another short report tonight. Due to unfavorable southeasterly winds, Illinois is experiencing little, if any at all, bird migration in our skies. This is evidenced by the extremely patchy blue areas on Illinois on the current radar (displayed as of 10:00pm at right).

For a slightly more detailed outlook for tomorrow morning, Illinois should not be expecting many arrivals and influxes except in the lowest southern quarter of the state, which may receive light concentrations.

Winds appear to be unfavorable for southbound migrants until Saturday night; however, rain is in the forecast for Saturday night so it is debatable as to whether they will even migrate in larger numbers then because of possible storm systems. Thankfully, winds look somewhat northerly and without rain Sunday night, so hopefully Monday will also be a good morning to find migrants. For a more detailed look at the current winds, click here.

For detailed outlooks at what birds you may find over the next few days, visit:
Birdcast's regional migration forecast
eBird's Illinois species occurrence map

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Aug 27, 2015

Hello birding friends,

Tonight Illinois is experiencing variable wind patterns that are easterly and shifting to south-southwesterly. This means that migration is very light and patchy tonight, as shown by the current radar, updated as of 10:00pm at right.

The very light and almost dotted blue radar noise is indicating that migrants are responding negatively to the shifting, and ultimately, unfavorable, winds tonight by migrating in lesser densities than the last two nights.

Although the majority of Illinois looks like it will be quiet tomorrow, some very localized pockets of new arrivals and influxes may show up in far northern as well as the southernmost quarter of the state, the two areas where the radar is picking up the "most" (relatively speaking) noise tonight.

Well, folks, the wind forecast is looking pretty...interesting. Roughly southerly winds should dominate until Saturday night, when there is a brief shift in winds to the west-northwest which could actually bring a big push of migrants Sunday morning given the wind forecasts leading up to then. Then, winds appear to stay southerly until, well, a week from Friday night which is when the Weather Channel's 10-day forecast runs out! :-|

So, if there is one morning to get out in the near future, it will be this Sunday morning. To predict which species one is likely to encounter in the next few days, consult Birdcast's regional migration forecast as well as eBird's species occurrence chart  for Illinois.

Good birding! I know I am enjoying migration so far...I have already detected 9 warbler species in my backyard this season! Hope you're finding some avian goodies, too!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Aug 26, 2015

Tomorrow (Wednesday) birders in far northern and northeastern Illinois should definitely GO BIRDING at "migrant traps," especially along Lake Michigan shoreline locations.

Another lighter migration forecast than usual tonight because of a busy schedule. Northerly winds are ushering light-to-moderate concentrations of migrants into our state tonight.
Looking from the current radar (updated 10:11pm at right), Illinois is currently experiencing light migrations on birds statewide. Concentrations appear to be a bit heavier in northeast Illinois and Wisconsin looks like it currently has moderate to locally heavy concentrations of migrants in the sky tonight - and some of those denser concentrations may make it into northern and especially northeastern Illinois in the morning.

As we saw this morning (I had 8 new warblers for the season in my backyard alone!), new arrivals and influxes, especially in the songbird department, will also be apparent tomorrow morning state-wide but especially in far-northern and northeastern locations of the state. I STRONGLY recommend checking any Lake Michigan shoreline "migrant traps" tomorrow morning because it looks like tomorrow will be a good day for new migrants, and possibly locally high concentrations of them.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), winds will remain northerly; however, they will shift to roughly southerly by Wednesday night which will probably create a lull in migration. It looks light winds will remain pretty much southerly until Saturday night, which will probably result in a big push of migrants arriving Sunday morning. This is good news because I lead a bird walk that morning!

To predict exactly which species you are likely to find and when you are likely to find them, visit Birdcast's regional migration forecast as well as eBird's species occurrence chart for Illinois.

So definitely GO BIRDING tomorrow morning if you are in far northern or northeastern Illinois!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Aug 25, 2015

A slightly shorter migration report tonight because migration is more uniform across the state of Illinois than last night (and I am very tired & have a big AP psychology test tomorrow, yay!).

Anyway...looking from the current radar (as of 10:00pm shown at right), migration tonight looks pretty good for the entire state. Migration in the heavier-end of the light side to moderate concentrations of birds should be expected tonight and some new arrivals and influxes could be expected at "migrant traps" statewide.

Winds are favorable, west-northwest, for heavy migration tonight; although I think a factor that is somewhat restricting movement tonight is that the winds are gusty and may be just a bit TOO strong in areas for the birds to want to migrate.

Tomorrow, and for the next few days/weeks, keep checking those sod farms for Buffies (Buff-breasted Sandpipers) and Golden Plovers; check any mudflats for other shorebirds such as Baird's, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, other something even better maybe (?); and check those pockets of woods for the first of the migrant warblers such as N. Waterthrush, Black-and-White, Blackburnian, and others. As usual, to get detailed reports on exactly which species to see and when to find them, check the regional Birdcast migration forecast as well as eBird's species occurrence chart.

The wind forecast looks favorable for migration (pretty much northerly winds) until Wednesday, so as well as tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, birders should also get out Wednesday morning to check for arrivals and influxes! More southerly winds arrive Wednesday night so a lull in migration should be expected starting Thursday morning.

That's it for today folks! Keep on birding!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Aug 24, 2015

Tonight Illinois is seeing widespread, moderate to locally heavy bird migration. According to the current radar (see left), large avian movements are happening across the state. Moderate migration should be evidenced by noteworthy arrivals and influxes throughout the norther three quarters of the state. The southern quarter of the state should be receiving locally heavy migration in areas and birders in southern Illinois should definitely hit the local shorebird and songbird migrant traps tomorrow (Monday) morning.

It would also be worth checking shorebird and songbird "migrant traps" in other more northerly areas of the state as well for possibly one of the largest push of migrants so far this autumn. View the current radar here.

Why is this happening? Looking from the mixed surface analysis, a cold front pushed through Illinois today, shifting winds from being southerly to west-northwesterly. This means the birds are not fighting a southerly headwind anymore while trying to migrate; in fact, they are even receiving a bit of a tailwind which probably explains why the radar is lighting up tonight.

One can see from the two wind maps below that the winds are indeed from the west-northwest and at quite a moderate clip, 10 to 15 mph.
Over the next few days, one can expect that moderate to heavy migration should be spurred on by more or less northerly winds all the way until Thursday morning. That means that arrivals and influxes should be noted in areas tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings this week as bird take advantage of these convenient northerly winds.

Birds that one can expect to find can be seen at Birdcast's regional migration forecasts, found here. Another helpful tool is's species occurrence chart for Illinois which shows all species that have been documented in Illinois and when exactly one could expect to find them in their greatest abundance from past observations.

In the SHOREBIRD department, one can expect to find continuing species that have been reported recently as well as continuing and possibly even slightly larger influxes of late species like Black-bellied and A. Golden Plovers, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Baird's, Buff-breasted, and Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Wilson's Snipe & Phalarope. For both plovers and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, head to the sod farms in rural areas and for all other species it would be worth checking Lake Michigan shoreline and inland shorebird hotspots like Emiquon and Goofy Ridge. One tip is to check these areas in the morning before the heat mirages/waves get in the way of viewing these typically far-away birds.

Regarding PASSERINES, Alder & Least Flycatchers, Swainson's Thrush, and warblers like Golden-winged, Black-and-White, Tennessee, Nashville, Mourning, Cape May, N. Parula, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Canada, and Wilson's should all be making noteworthy appearances in their respective "migrant traps" within the next few days, if not already.

Good birding!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Aug 23, 2015

Welcome to the first true migration report of autumn 2015!

Only very light to light migration should be expected tonight, as evidenced by the current radar which shows patchy blue areas, indicating negligible concentrations of most likely less than 100 birds migrating per cubic kilometer - which is not a lot. The wind map (see below) shows that Illinois winds are south-southeasterly tonight which would be prohibiting a lot of movement because southbound migrants rely on northerly tailwinds to migrate.

One should note; however, that there is slight variation in the amount of noise the radar is showing throughout different areas of the state. I believe that the northern two thirds of Illinois should be experiencing very, very limited, if at any, arrivals and influxes whereas the southern third of Illinois should actually expect light concentrations tomorrow morning. This is evidenced by the extremely patchy blue areas in the northern two thirds of the state with light blue radar noise being more widespread in the southern third.

What are some arrivals and influxes to be expected tomorrow and over the next week or so? Go to the Birdcast Migration Forecast for a detailed outlook, but a few species that should be moving in noticeable numbers are Green-winged Teal, Buff-breasted and many other Sandpipers, Northern Waterthrush, Blackburnian, Golden-winged, Chestnut-sided & Black-and-White Warblers, Ovenbird, Warbling Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Veery. Of these species, I have found Northern Waterthrush and Rose-breasted Grosbeak in my neighborhood over the last few days. Another good resource for looking at when certain species arrive and peak in Illinois is the eBird occurence chart which diagrams comprehensive annual reports of these species.

So what should we expect with regards to wind forecasts and probable migration outlooks for the next few nights? Tomorrow (Sunday) night, the storm system that will have passed through from the west during the day will shift winds to being westerly, possibly making for more light-to-moderate concentrations of migrants. Arrivals and influxes should increase nightly on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights as winds gradually transition from due west to due north by Thursday morning. So, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings might be good for finding new migrants for the season.

Good birding!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Aug 10, 2015 - Fall Migration Precursor Post

Hello birding friends,

My name is Henry Griffin and I am the new author for "Arrivals and Influxes" and the various Illinois Migration Reports posted on IBET & IBF. Before I introduce myself and give the fall migration pre-cursor report, I would like to say a few things about Nick Minor. Nick is such an admirable young man - a true role model for me - and his scientific and ornithological knowledge seemingly knows no bounds - he is absolutely brilliant! Although I am continuing these reports, I will not even begin to live up to Nick Minor's astounding legacy of immense knowledge, impeccable attention to detail, and amazing devotion to the Illinois birding community through his absolutely astounding writing style of these reports.

I am 15 years old, a rising sophomore in high school (school starts for me on Tuesday, August 18), I play trumpet, piano, and I sing in the Voice of Chicago choir, and I have been a birder since February of 2012. My "spark bird" was a Cooper's Hawk that flew into my backyard and ever since then, my birding passion has led me to become a member of the Illinois Young Birders Club, lead free Oak Park Bird Walks in the spring and fall, and travel around the world looking for birds.

I have a solely birding blog, Birding Around the World, that chronicles my birding adventures, everything from leading morning bird walks to international trips. As I mentioned, I also lead free Oak Park Bird Walks during spring and fall to bring greater awareness for birds in suburban/urban areas. Feel free to contact me anytime:

Now, to the fall migration precursor report! I would like to give a rough outline of how and when I plan to post migration reports this fall: I will post again on Saturday, August 22 and will hopefully post nightly reports starting then (although I am very busy so some nights it won't be possible) until early November.

The period of calendar time when I post reports; however, does NOT dictate when fall migration exactly happens! I dare say, as Nick has written in the past, this southward migration could hardly even qualify as "fall" migration, in fact, it starts barely after spring migration has passed and actually continues through most of the winter! Also, although in this post I attempt to roughly outline when certain bird types will migrate, these are trends seen from the past and a number of climate- and weather-related factors such as climate change and even normal variation in weather from year to year literally change the calendar dates of migration every season.

In mid-to-late June, one may expect to already see or at least see reports of bird "dispersal;" that is, birds already meandering away from their breeding grounds because of failed attempts at breeding. This is common with shorebirds from northern, even Arctic, locales; however, I have also seen this happen with birds as different from them as American Redstarts!

July beckons the true beginning of shorebird migration where more and more failed breeding attempts start to mix in with true southbound migration of these brown and gray mudflat-lovers. Failed breeding attempts from songbirds and other species continue with even slightly greater intensity in July than in June. Orchard Oriole is a noteworthy songbird that actually regularly migrates southward in mid-to-late July.

Southbound shorebird migration is very long-winded, stretching from late June/early July all the way until early November in some extreme cases. You can see an example of this in's bar chart for shorebird occurrence in Illinois (on right); note the diverse times of year when various migrant shorebirds peak in abundance. For example, the Baird's Sandpiper appears to peak in abundance from August to mid September while to Dunlin peaks in October to even November in more southerly locations in Illinois!

August sees the peak number of shorebirds (again, the majority - not all of them) passing through Illinois on their trek to the Caribbean, Central, and South America (don't you wish you were a bird?). This month also brings about the true start to songbird migration, usually bringing in noticeable influxes of these birds starting in the last week of August.

Shorebird migration is still noteworthy but starts to slightly decline as the month of September wears on; however, songbird migration is on an "accelerando," as a musician would say, until about the last week in September when songbird's influxes peak in northern Illinois (note that this timing is a bit early for southern Illinois due to geographic location).

In October, songbird migration decreases while shorebirds begin to disappear at an even greater rate, while raptor migration is on the increase. Many raptors, such as the famed kettles of Broad-winged Hawks or that one nemesis Illinois Golden Eagle for you pass over in the month of October and can be readily viewed at hawk watch sites such as Greene Valley, Fort Sheridan, or Illinois Beach State Park. Also in October, one starts to see the arrival of late-migrating as well as winter species such as waterfowl, Winter Wren, Northern Shrike (late in the month), and, depending on the year and the amount of food at their breeding grounds, irruptive finch species (especially Pine Siskin).

November brings in the absolute last of the migrating songbirds and shorebirds (such as Dunlin, or hopefully Purple Sandpiper), dwindling raptor movement, and increasing numbers in waterfowl and winter species such as Common Merganser and Rough-legged Hawk.

Typically winter species such as the aforementioned Merg keep migrating and influxing into our area until early-to-mid December when winter avian patterns set in and migration pretty much quiets down until early March. One noteworthy aspect to winter birding; however, is the presence and odd "migrations" of irruptive species, which may, in their own right, classify as another type of (albeit higgledy-piggledy) migration.

So that's about what we should be expecting this year! As I already stated, migration varies from year to year and that's part of the reason why Nick Minor, and now I, try to give daily reports about the magical, enchanting disorder and confusion of, specifically southbound, migration.

What can we be expecting for the next 12 days until I post again? Increasing numbers of migrant shorebirds, especially at places like Emiquon, Chautauqua, and Lake Michigan locations as well as the first few arriving southbound songbirds at regular "migrant traps." We have already had evidence to both of these migration sub-categories so far this season with an abundance of shorebird reports as well as even reports of migrating songbirds such as the multiple Yellow-bellied Flycatchers that have been sighted recently, Pine Siskin & Olive-sided Flycatcher at Cantigny Park, Swainson's Thrush at Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve, and even other types of migrating birds such as Josh Engel's recent Jaeger sighting.

Good migration-ing!

Birding Around the World
Oak Park Bird Walks