Spring Migration, Part Three

So, we’ve gotten through the first wave/fallout projected on the 24th, and we’re heading into prime-time: May. I should also point out that these predictions are based on statistics gathered by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), and basically apply only to northern Ohio, i.e. lakefront gathering points.

May 1st thru 10th:
As previously mentioned, the spring migration has been identified to consist of three significant waves, the first occurring late last month. The second wave is estimated to occur just days from now, May 7th thru the 13th. Southerly winds last week brought lots of migrating species finally to our local hotspots, along with sightings of others such as White Pelicans, Avocets, Dowitchers, and Little Blue Heron, to name a few. Here are some of the birds estimated to peak between the 1st and 10th of May, with associative BSBO peak banding dates:

3rd: White-crowned Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Western Palm Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We have observed upticks in all of these species in the last week or so, especially Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) and Palm Warbler. I was at Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve this past weekend and these two species were present in significant number, along with more than a few Yellow Warbler. Most of these birds started to arrive on-site in late April.

4th: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, House Wren. One bird giving credence to my theory that migration is early this year is the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; they made a strong and numerous showing in late April and are now pretty much gone, except for the occasional straggler. Kinglets have also pretty much peaked as well, though several might still be observed here and there.

6th: Indigo Bunting, Cape May Warbler, Nashville Warbler. These three species are just now starting to be sighted in northern Ohio.

8th: Warbling Vireo. Currently being heard at most northern hotspots.

9th: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Wood Thrush. Just starting to make appearances, with Hummingbirds seeming to arrive around the 2nd in spots.


May 11th thru 20th:
Diversity begins to run high during this period, as more individual species arrive. Numbers of shorebirds are projected to be excellent during this time. As a reminder, these are anticipated ‘peak’ days:

11th: Hooded Warbler. Have just started to make appearances.

15th: American Redstart, Northern Parula Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Gray-cheek Thrush. Most being seen with regularity downstate.

16th: Prothonotary Warbler, Tennessee Warbler. Prothonotary are here, not in great numbers.

18th: Common Yellowthroat.

19th: Great-crested Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, Red-eyed Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, Canada Warbler. Another species giving credence to my early season prediction, the Baltimore Oriole has arrived all over and is being observed everywhere, along with Orchard Orioles.

20th: Least Flycatcher, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler.


May 21st thru 31st:
Here comes the third and final migrational wave, predicted between May 24th to 26th. In addition to passerines, many shorebirds are at their peak migration numbers, and can be readily observed and appropriate hotspots.

23rd: Eastern Wood Pewee.

24th: Wilson’s Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler.

25th: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Traill’s Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler.


Considering how certain birds have been arriving, it is still my hypothesis that peak periods are earlier than these projections and what the data would suggest from last year’s BSBO banding season. Regardless, we are in for a busy month, and a tumultuous one, given the present environment of COVID-19 and the inability to travel to many of the best hotspots, particularly Magee Marsh, which remains totally closed. Get out and bird locally, as I am, and enjoy what you see, for the beauty is in the individual, not in the numbers!

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