Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 15, 2011 @ 9:46 am

Heavy Migration Over Florida; Big Flight Over KW & Miami

This is the radar from 5:00pm last night to 9:00am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.
Base Reflectivity image from Key West, FL Base Velocity image from Key West, FL Base Reflectivity image from Miami, FL Base Velocity image from Miami, FL Composite base reflectivity for the Southeastern USA

Heavy migration over most of Florida across to Texas was evident last night due to a nice tailwind over the Caribbean and the Gulf. The night started off with an easterly component to the winds but a shift to the south helped birds fly farther. Miami radar shows birds were still aloft as of 9 a.m. flying over the upper keys and Biscayne Bay. South to SSE winds over the bay will give these birds a tailwind to continue north into the morning. If these birds continue their flight north we expect migrant traps from North Miami to Palm Beach to be your best for today. During spring, birds that are in a rush to reach the breeding grounds will fly farther and faster; thus flying longer distances than in the fall. If fat reserves are sufficient migrants will fly into the morning in hopes of covering more ground.

Last night most radar stations in Florida were alive with returns as birds departed on their flight to the north. The densities recorded on radar last night were consistent with hundreds of thousands if not millions of birds migrating over FL. Jacksonville radar again had the densest migration throughout the night. We expect birding to be awesome in southeastern Alabama and western Georgia today. Some birds seem to have grounded as a rain band worked across NE Alabama. Birds that departed from Florida last night were on the move over these states in big numbers.

Key West radar recorded some impressive images of a big flight over the chain of islands. Some of these birds may have trickled out over true-and-tried migrant traps in the Keys with the upper keys looking best. Miami radar also had heavy migration overhead into the morning hours. These birds are expected to continue the flight north but as with any large migration birds are expected to trickle out. No fall out conditions but new birds should be around at migrant traps.

Please write us and let us know what you are seeing across Florida and if you are reading this from other states share your experience with us. We love to hear from fellow birders and radar junkies on their take of the night’s migration and how it affected their birding. You can click on “leave a comment” below and post your sightings for others to read.

Nature is Awesome,
Angel and Mariel


  1. Heard them at 6:15 am over my house in South Dade. Massive number of calls. I headed to Bill Baggs in hopes some of the showers offshore would move inland. They didn’t, so birds didn’t stop at the cape. Very dead over there. 7 species in one hour. I passed some small bird numbers looking for a bigger flock and there was none to be found.

  2. Managed 11 warbler species at Cape Florida. Birds reported by A & M as SE of the Cape at 9:30 AM slowly drifted into the hammock area by noon. Not a huge influx but noticeable. New faces: Summer Tanager and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Short-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks over north end of the park. This afternoon may be productive at regular stops such as Sadowski and Barnes.

  3. Three hours of looking turned up seven warbler species at Fort DeSoto during
    midday today. East Beach woods turned up a male black-throated green, prairie
    and a black and white; Privet Trail yielded a hooded, two blackpolls and a
    northern parula; another prairie was in the canopy near the ranger’s house; and
    a palm was foraging on the ground at North Beach woods.

    Other notable birds included a female orchard oriole and yellow-bellied
    sapsucker at the ranger’s house, and an adult bald eagle in a tree near the
    shoreline at North Beach.

    Not a lot of birds, but nice diversity. Mosquitos were very much reduced in
    numbers at all above locations.

    Dennis O’Neil

  4. We had our first small wave of migrants in the Mangrove Bay Neighborhood of NE St. Petersburg today. Not a lot of birds but after not seeing a single warbler since last week it was refreshing. List seen this morning is as follows.

    5) American Redstart
    4) Palm Warbler
    1) Black-throated Blue Warbler
    1) Black-and-White Warbler
    1) Prairie Warbler
    1) Eastern Wood-pewee
    1) Great Crested Flycatcher

    Don Margeson

  5. Hi all,

    Finally, after a spring virtually without migrants, some birds have appeared in Gulf Breeze at our migrant trap home. Birds started appearing around our small pond about mid-afternoon. E. Kingbirds passed over, along with a couple of Summer Tanagers, not stopping and not tired. Not surprising since they had good SE & S winds to hurry them up here. I would call this a typical “trickle out” but, hey, after a very disappointing spring, we’ll take them. Birds in our yard or flying over were Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Ky. Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Cape May (neighborhood), Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Btg.

    Right now it appears the squall line will by-pass us and the heavy weather will pass well to our north, too late anyhow, to cause fallout for the AOS meeting at Dauphin Is. today. But winds will shift W 20 knots after mid-night and should shift the movement our way IF there is one. Winds in Merida are N 16 mph at 7 pm, not conducive to a movement out of Yucatan, but SE 13 mph in Cancun and E 16 mph in the Bay of Campeche. With very high temperatures in Merida today, I suspect the N wind is a seabreeze effect and not the true wind. Do the birds know that? Readings in Cancun and mid Bay of Campeche indicate true wind. The mid-Gulf buoy at @ 7 pm is reading S at 8 knots. So if there is a movement north out of Yucatan tonight, will we get birds tomorrow at D. I.? We’re going to find out.

    Bob Duncan

  6. While fishing 15 miles off the coast of West Palm Beach this weekend, I saw thousands of little birds migrating north. They are small like a sparrow and seem to travel of groups of 50 or so.

    Do you know what type of birds they are?

    • Steve, the birds were most likely Warblers. These small migrants will fly over the water on their journey towards the mainland. Islands such as the Bahamas are wintering spots and stop over sites for these migrants. Some birds wintered on these islands in the Caribbean and some are just stopping to refuel before heading north for the breeding grounds. You happened to be at the right spot at the right time. Very few birders ever get a chance to witness what you witnessed. If conditions were optimal the migrants may have chosen the shortest route possible which may have included a long flight over water instead of heading west and then reorienting north. We would love to witness such a phenomenon.

      Angel & Mariel

  7. Thanks for the information. Saw thousands on Saturday and much fewer on Sunday. You never know what you’ll see when you’re offshore. Three weeks ago my wife and I saw three humpback whales. That was the first time I had ever seen them off the coast of Florida.


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