January in the temperate Northern Hemisphere is not typically a time that most consider as falling within “spring migration.” Rather, local and facultative movements of wintering birds and irruptive movements tend to dominate birding discussions, observations, and field trips. However, here we are on 1 February talking about the arrivals of the earliest migrants in the US. Purple Martins have started returning to the southern tier of the US, appearing from early to mid January and increasing in numbers throughout the month.
Although these arrivals are on the extreme early end of spring migration, it is not too early to begin to consider more substantial movements of migrants. Forecast models for the end of the first week and beginning of the second week of February 2013 suggests that a pulse of warm air will occur in the Northeastern US. This pulse may be sufficient to facilitate movements of early migrants like some waterfowl, raptors, sparrows, and blackbirds. Team Birdcast will follow up on this pattern next week to see how strong it is forecast to be and how extensive.