“The Cherry Blossoms Are Out. It Must Be Time to Fly North Again.”

Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photo of Jim Bredy.The cherry blossoms are blooming at my house in the mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. That is always a good indication that my departure for the “north country” is imminent. It looks like I am fortunate to have the same observer back again for the third year in a row—Joe Sands, Ph.D, the migratory bird specialist for the FWS’s Northwest Region.

I just reviewed the habitat and precipitation conditions this morning from Agriculture Canada’s website. The maps do not present a great picture for Southern and Central Alberta. All of the precipitation indices indicate below-normal precipitation for most of the survey area over the last 12 months. What we really need now are some early spring snow storms, followed by a rapid melt of that snow. This would help to fill many of the semi-permanent wetland basins that are crucial for prairie nesting waterfowl. However, with the dry conditions, we do not expect much of a “frost seal” in the soils. Thus, when the remaining snow does melt, it is more likely to soak into the soils more rapidly than if there were a “soil frost seal.”

We anticipate starting the surveys in southern Alberta during the first week of May. A lot can change in the next month. In the meantime, pray for more snow and rain.

Palmer Drought Index, February, 2016, Credit: Agriculture Canada

Palmer Drought Index, February, 2016, Credit: Agriculture Canada

Percent of Normal Winter Precipitation, February 28, 2016 to March 28, 2016, Agriculture Canada

Percent of Normal Winter Precipitation, February 28, 2016 to March 28, 2016, Credit: Agriculture Canada

Percent of Normal Growing Season Precipitation, April 1 - October 31, 2015, Credit: Agriculture Canada

Percent of Normal Growing Season Precipitation, April 1 - October 31, 2015, Credit: Agriculture Canada

Percent of Normal Precipitation, March, 2016, Credit: Agriculture Canada

Percent of Normal Precipitation, March, 2016, Credit: Agriculture Canada