Bird Notes from West Houston

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Migration numbers

I have been asked many times when the best time for birding is during spring migration in the Houston area. I have friends who live in other parts of the state who want to maximize their time here and see as many species as possible. So, they ask when to come. Until recently, I didn't know except to tell them that I always thought late April was the best time. Last night, I sat down with A Birder's Checklist of the Upper Texas Coast published by the Houston Outdoor Nature Club, Ornithology Group to answer that question. My criteria was to only consider migratory songbirds (from nightjars to orioles) that are listed as abundant (A), fairly common (FC) or uncommon (U). The dates I considered were the third week of March through the third week of May. Here are the results:

3rd week Mar.
Number of migrants - 22
A - 4
FC - 4
U - 14

4th week Mar.
Number of migrants - 32
A - 13
FC - 9
U - 10

1st week Apr.
Number of migrants - 45
A - 18
FC - 10
U - 17

2nd week Apr.
Number of migrants - 49
A - 29
FC - 13
U - 7

3rd week Apr.
Number of migrants - 65
A - 34
FC - 17
U - 14

4th week Apr.
Number of migrants - 69
A - 38
FC - 20
U - 11

1st week May
Number of migrants - 67
A - 37
FC - 18
U - 12

2nd week May
Number of migrants - 62
A - 23
FC - 25
U - 14

3rd week May
Number of migrants - 50
A - 10
FC - 23
U - 17

Migration is already going well. On Sunday, I saw Northern Parulas, a Yellow-throated Vireo and a Hooded Warbler in the woods on my property. I also watched Barn Swallows flying overhead. This morning, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow flew beside my car as I was stopped at a stopsign near my house. According to the numbers, it only gets more active in the coming weeks! Good birding!

- Paul

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