Migration Report: 25 – 26 Feburary 2012

Benjamin Van Doren The Cornell Lab Feb 27, 2012

Check out last week’s forecast, then read on to see how we did!

Although it is still February, when bird migration can be expected to be minimal overall, the predictions for 25-26 Feb 2012 were borne out by observations on the ground. Thanks to all those who report regularly to eBird from the Great Plains and Great Lakes, since your reports from before and after this weather system will help refine these predictions in the future. Although a full analysis of the observations is not possible at this stage, here are a few observations that indicate that indeed birds were on the move with the warm jet on 25-26 Feb 2012.

  • eBirder Pete Janzen wrote to the Kansas listserv “Last weekend Kevin and I found Quivira NWR to be sparsely inhabited by   birds. Today’s [26 Feb] report from Barry Jones is a strong contrast to what we   observed. I note that the new bird   migration forecast tool available on eBird nailed it on predicting this shift.”   Barry’s list included first arrivals for Cinnamon Teal (1), Northern Shoveler (100), Ruddy Duck (40), and American Coot (1), but is not (yet!) in eBird.
  • Road-tripping eBird project leaders Brian Sullivan and Chris Wood report seeing American White Pelicans, Ring-billed Gulls, and geese (five species) in high, migratory flight on Sunday 26 Feb and Monday 27 Feb (see their checklists herehere, and here). They also had an early Cinnamon Teal in Oklahoma 26 Feb.

Note that American Woodcocks and Killdeer, among other species, are turning up as much as two weeks ahead of schedule across much of the eastern United States. This is likely because of the overall mild winter, but this particular weather system likely contributed to an additional pulse of early arrivals.

  • American Woodcocks on southern Lake Michigan first appeared on Sunday evening, suggesting possible migration to the area on Saturday night/Sunday morning). See checklists here and here. Zoom in to see points (red for recent, blue for historical) on the   February map for American Woodcock to put these in context–they are very early for this area based on past eBird data!
  • Radar imagery overnight on 25-26 February shows some bird migration occurring around selected radar stations in the vicinity of the southerly winds (the birds are the light blue circular scatter in s. Missouri, Arkansas, e. Oklahoma, and e. Kansas, as well as the somewhat heavier signal in se. Nebraska).