Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nocturnal Migration

First, I hope you checked out my guest post, co-authored with Lewis Grove, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Round Robin last week. The next post should appear this evening or tomorrow about spectrograms. Somewhat dry, but with audio of flight calls (!), then we can get into the fun stuff. Hopefully we'll be able to post some "predictions" of migratory events during the spring, but we'll definitely run a series of species-specific posts to help you learn some common flight calls and others about flight calls in general.

That said, tonight looks pretty good across portions of the eastern US, at least as of 10:30 PM. Compare these two maps, one what the radar looked like at 7:00 PM (EDT), the second just over two hours later.

Radar Map, 1900 hoursRadar Map, 2118 hoursThose two greenish blobs over the mid-west (Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas) and a bit farther east (Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana) represent storm systems, and are present in both maps. Then there are those circular blue blobs, a few present over the southeast in the first map but many, many more in the second map. Those are radar stations picking up objects in the sky that are not weather. They are birds, possibly bats or large insects, but the majority are birds.

The brownish washes seen across western New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and interspersed in other areas, are less-active areas of migration - but migration nonetheless.

Looks like a good night to go out and listen for flight calls, even better, for listening for flight calls while training low-powered optics on tonight's full moon. Perhaps you'll see some shadows crossing the face of the moon while hearing calls dripping down from birds on the move. I'm heading outside now, let me know if you see/hear anything!


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