Friday, April 20, 2007

Bird Migration on radar

We've been socked pretty good these past few weeks by very cold temps, culminating in that nasty Nor'Easter at the beginning of this past week. Here in Ithaca it dumped nearly a foot of snow in the hills, although the valleys saw no accumulation. Now, several days later, the snow is all but gone again, the sun is shining, and the birds are itching to move.

It's been a very weird spring. We had excellent weather in March, with strong movements of waterfowl (which normally are the first group to migrate) through the Cayuga Lake Basin. At peak, there was over 100,000 waterfowl on Cayuga Lake and the area of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex known as the Mucklands at the north end of the lake, possibly totalling 150,000. The numbers were staggering. There was also a decent push of early hawks through the region, and some of the early migrants (Phoebe, blackbirds, etc.) arrived. Then the cold hit, and very little new birds trickled in. Now it's closer to May than March, and we have yet to see and decent numbers of early warblers such as Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped, or Louisiana Waterthrush. That's going to change shortly.

Here's a few images pulled from regional radars tonight on They show strong migration erupting just after dark, although it is not anywhere close to what it can be at peak times.

This one is the coolest... swarms of birds moving in over the Gulf. I did check the current conditions in Houston - this isn't rain.

To give you the idea of directionality, I downloaded the animated gif from wunderground. Click to animate:

And now, the best one, from the Rutgers Weather Center. You can clearly see birds rising to the air across the nation, in a sweep from east to west as night progresses (click to animate):

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing...the animated loop was amazing...confirmation that summer's migrants will really get here.