[Tweeters] Early Arriving Migrants and a Plea for Caution

Brad Waggoner wagtail at sounddsl.com
Sat Apr 12 15:49:07 PDT 2014

Hello All,

I'm not sure how this will come across, and I really have no intent here
on picking on anyone for tweeters post about arriving migrants and
breeders. Posts on heard-only birds are especially concerning to those
of us that attempt to track records in the state of Washington. Ain't
spring wonderful, especially with glorious days like this with returning
swallows about, and Common Yellowthroats setting up territory in our
local marshes, and Orange-crowned Warbler trilling in shrubby riparian
areas. But, there are a number of species, despite such a nice batch of
weather, that really do not show until the latter part of the month of
April or into May. I would encourage all to take a look at bar graphs in
A Birders Guide to Washington, or for those that really are keen on
status and distribution here, take a look at Birds of Washington. Take a
look at when some species normally arrive, and maybe use it as a
reference source for making calls on certain species. Be careful not to
interpret rare or casual lines in these graphs as the time they arrive.
I find that a bit deceiving and arrivals in those dates need superb

Specifically, be very careful of flycatchers, especially a few of our
empids, pewees, and Olive-sided Flycatchers. Yes, things like Hammond's
and Pacific-sloped Flycatchers arrive in late April (early to mid April
could use documentation), but Willow Flycatchers do not arrive until
mid-May. Pewees and Olive-sided Flycatcher are early May arriving birds,
but a few might be found in the waning days of April. Warbling and
Cassin's Vireo do not arrive until later in the month despite a few rare
or casual marks earlier in April. Red-eyed Vireos, and I will throw in
American Redstarts, do not show until mid May. Some of are thrushes are
early migrants including the bluebirds, solitaires, and Hermit Thrush,
but Veery (a west-side rarity anyway) and Swainson's Thrushes are both
May arriving birds. A few Swainson's Thrushes may actually show in the
last few days of April, but I can almost guarantee you will get a "whit"
vocalization at that time, and not an actual song. They just don't sing
until they get strongly territorial until after the first week in May.
Warblers such as Nashville, Black-throated Gray, Wilson's and Macs will
indeed show quite soon, but Yellow Warbler will not be on the scene
until early May. Bright Orange-crowned Warblers in March and April can
be the likely source of early reported Yellows. Western Tanagers,
Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Lazuli Buntings are late April/first of May
arriving birds. And chats too arrive in May. Oh yeah, and nighthawks
don't arrive until late May early June.

Thanks and good birding,

Brad Waggoner
Bainbridge Island, Washington
mailto:wagtail24 at gmail.com

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