[Tweeters] Migration Questions

Brad Waggoner wagtail at sounddsl.com
Wed Jun 11 22:19:53 PDT 2008

Hi All,

Paul Hicks does raise some interesting questions about our "Spring"
migration. It has felt a lot like March or April lately and not the
middle of June!

I am not sure why we are getting "unusuals" such as multiple Indigo
Buntings. Perhaps this is more related to weather patterns in the
mid-western United States. Or perhaps we were just overdue.

I do think there is a fairly good explanation for the Western Tanagers
and other western migrants that would normally be utilizing higher
elevation habitat for summer breeding. There is a shortage of habitat
for breeding and surviving! It Snowed heavily down to Snolqualmie Pass
level on Tuesday. We just witnessed the coldest first week in June (in
Seattle) since 1894 after a colder than normal May. And there is a large
remaining snow pack in the mountains.

Despite the cool, showery weather I enjoyed my time in Eastern
Washington including a few days birding and trip-leading at the WOS
conference in Walla Walla. On Friday we encountered a large flock (60+)
of Western Tanagers near Dixie at the base of the Blue Mountains feeding
on a weedy hillside. They must have been "forced-down" by the cold and
snow that was occurring at higher elevations. I know my group didn't
want to bird long in the upper areas of the Blue Mts.!

I also had good numbers of western migrants like Hammond's Flycatcher,
Warbling Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Wilson's Warbler, Orange-crowned
Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, and Western Tanager in some of the "migrant
traps" along the Columbia River on Thursday and again on Sunday. Last
year during about the same time in June, I had none. So are these late
arriving migrants at this point in June? I don't think so. I just think
we are seeing some "holdouts" and movements in lower elevations due to
the conditions occurring at the higher elevations. That's my take anyway.

Cheers and good birding,
Brad Waggoner
Bainbridge Island
mailto:wagtail at sounddsl.com

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