Spring Migration

Banding efforts for the spring songbird migration began in earnest during the first week of April. Our first efforts were often influenced by the passage of several weather fronts that brought high winds and colder that average temperatures in the Concho Valley.  In spite of the weather, we were able to encounter some migrants during the first half of the month. Our most unexpected bird during this time was a Common Ground-Dove which is not a migrant but not expected in the Concho Valley during this season of the year.  On the 19th of April, we banded our first Painted Bunting of the year which arrived several days earlier than past years. This bird was soon followed by Lazuli and Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks and Summer Tanagers. During the last week of April, the floodgates finally opened and we were rewarded with swarms of migrating Pine Siskins, wood warblers, buntings, and goldfinches. 

With the drought that occurred in the mid-west in the summer of 2012 and the subsequent low number of migrants encountered in the fall, we anticipated that the number of spring migrants would be lower than most years throughout the Concho Valley.  In fact, near record numbers of Orange-crowned, Nashville, Wilson's, and Yellow Warblers funneled through the riparian corridor along with good numbers of less common but still expected warblers. With more than two weeks remaining in the month of May, we are still encountering such species as MacGillivray's Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Oven Bird. We expect to see other less common warblers as the season draws to a close. Winter and spring rains have been sparse across the Concho Valley. Perhaps these birds are being forced into the riparian corridor to find water and other resources as they head to their breeding grounds. The conditions and results are beginning to mirror the 2011 season when we encountered many more birds and species than a normal year. The final results will not be written until the last waves of migrants have made their way through our banding stations.