Is this southwestern vagrant weather?

The current weather pattern is looking very interesting for bringing some good birds our way. I’m no expert on weather, but if you look below at the current surface map below, (6:09pm October 26, 2010) it looks very similar to the diagram on the right from an article on weather for birders.

The southwest winds associated with systems like these are implicated in bringing vagrants as well as reverse migrants. Commonly found southwestern vagrants include Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Kingbird and Cave Swallow.

These SW winds also can result in species such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-breasted Chat and Chimney Swift to reappear in the northeast weeks and months after the last previous sightings.

This particular storm has set low pressure records in the midwest and was basically a huge non-tropical cyclone and has high winds associated with it. Hopefully the flow from the southwest will bring some interesting birds. Usually these rarities end up along the coast, but Pennsylvania has its fair share of Western Kingbird and Ash-throated Flycatcher records, and Cave Swallows are now sighted annually in the southeastern part of the state.

Once this storm has passed, its going to get cold and the winds are shifting to northwesterly. This should be a boost to the hawk watches and maybe bring the first real pushes of the late season raptors such as Golden Eagles and goshawks.

For more reading on birds and weather, check out A Weather Primer for Birders.