I just got back from my roof top (about 43 stories high in downtown Chicago) and there is a fairly heavy nocturnal migration underway. The skies are clear, winds are moderate, and most of the downtown lights are off, so most of the birds seem to be making their way south quickly and safely. This is certainly not the heaviest migration I have heard from my roof, but its still pretty early, and is probably the heaviest I have heard this year. The birds sound like they are a bit low but probably not low enough for a significant fallout unless a storm arises. It will be interesting to see tomorrrow morning if a lot of birds come down in the lakefront parks, or if most of them just fly over the City without stopping.
I will post throughout the night if I see or hear anything interesting happening.
12:05 UPDATE: Just took a walk around the neighborhood. Migration is audible (barely) above the traffic noise at street level. Still hot and muggy out, so the front hasn't hit here yet. Winds are starting to pick up a bit, though. No downed birds around the John Hancock Building, no birds trapped or circling anywhere. Back up to the roof.
12:20 UPDATE: Back from the roof. Getting a bit windy. Migration still underway, a bit heavier than before. My hearing is not that great, so I can't really pick out species, but it seems lick there were a few more thrushes flying overhead. Radar is still pretty clear, but I could see heavy lightning to the south, some lightning to the north, yet only a few sporadic drops of rain on the roof. I meant clear weather-wise, but I'm wondering how hard it is to distinguish bird images from very light rain on nights like tonight.
Might get interesting if I can stay awake!
12:40 UPDATE: Very heavy audible migration still underway. I actually saw one bird migrating (that happens someimes--so cool!!!!) from the roof. Most of the calls seem to be pretty high in the sky, but a few sounded like they were below the height of my roof. Weather seems to have cleared a bit.
I did a timed count: in two minutes, I heard 190 flight call notes. Obviously, I'm hearing some birds more than once as they fly over, and some are probably circling, there's no wya for me to sort that out, especially with all the ancillary noise (Lake Shore Drive, generators, etc.). But that at least gives you an idea of how constant the flow of birds is.
12:45 UPDATE: I just checked the radar again. Looks like the flow of birds headed south from N. Illinois and Wisconsin are headed straight towards a line of thunderstorms that is moving (roughly) northeast through Central Illinois. Someone is going to have a big fallout tomorrow morning, but probably south/southwest of Chicago proper, so will anyone see it? Palos might be a good place to be tomorrow morning?
1:30-2:50 UPDATE: Dark side of migration. NEED SLEEP! Went for a cruise around the Loop. Minute-by-minute account later. Large fallout occurring in the Loop. 80% warblers, some thrushes, a few flycatchers. Birds caught in lights at AON Building, Blue Cross Blue Shield Building, Bank One, Hyatt Center. Roll down your car window in the Loop and you hear chip notes everywhere. 50+ birds grounded at Hyatt Center. Bucket full o' dead birds in car. Back to the roof, more details later. Hope the lightning is kind to me.
2:40 Steady rain starts, lightning increases.
3:05 UPDATE: Migration has noticably slowed on rooftop. 125 chip notes in two minutes. Steady rain and lightning. Did the migrants "ride" in front of the front? How long can they stay aloft in a medium steady rain, with periodic lightning? Where are all the thrushes? And sparrows? Weather conditions make further rooftop observtaions unlikely. Choice: Sleep or stand on roof of tall building in thunderstorm? Sleep!
Sick day tomorrow?
3:15 Can't sleep. Fill in some gaps:
1:15 Checked Lakeshore East and Randolph Street. I hereby declare myself the first person to proclaim that the new private park at the Lakeshore East will be a fantastic migrant trap! Check it out! No kills here or on Randolph. Can hear many birds circling near Grant Park/Blue Cross Building.
1:30 1 dead and 1 alive at Blue Cross
1 dead at Two Prudential
1:45 two more dead at Blue Cross
Important to note that kills are occurring as early as 1:30 am.
1:48 No kills at Daley Plaza.
1:52 No kills at Bank One, but birds heard circling the building.
1:56 Slight drizzle begins. 1 dead at Madison & Wacker.
1:58 birds heard circling at Sears Tower. Birds heard circling at AT&T Building
2:00 Major fallout underway at Hyatt Center, 71 S. Wacker. First count, 18 dead or injured. One full circuit of building: 30+ dead, about as many injured, most of the injured fly off quickly when appraoched.
Chip notes heard everywhere on way to Randolph Street, especially along Chicago River, but no dead birds seen.
2:41 Still nothing at Illinois Center. Six dead at Blue Cross Building. Couple more at AON and Two Pru.
7:15 UPDATE: Sleep is overrated! Mini-fallout at Northerly Island. Rails rails rails! More later!