Sharing the joy of birds since 1971

The Wonder and Hazards of Fall Migration

Screen Snapshot of YouTube Video

Migration is in full swing!  For a few months beginning in August, literally millions of birds fly overhead while we sleep. Some species fly from the boreal forests of Canada to the tropics. Some long-distance migrants travel from the Arctic to the furthest reaches of South America. How they prepare, navigate, nap on the wing, cross huge bodies of water, find sustenance in stopovers, and ultimately reach their destinations is nothing short of miraculous.  But that journey is full of dangers, many of them caused by humans.

Colliding with buildings, not only skyscrapers but also our homes, kills up to a billion birds each year. What can we do?  Dim or turn out lights out for birds on peak migration nights! You can also use blackout curtains to reduce light pollution. To learn more about the problem and what we can do to help, watch this animated video celebrating World Migratory Bird Day! There are more great resources at the American Bird Conservancy’s website for Preventing Bird Strikes.

To find peak nights to dim lights, or to plan your fall bird hikes, monitor the ebb and flow of migratory birds with BirdCast. It uses weather and historic data to predict the density of birds nightly, displaying a color-coded national map. 

There you can get more detailed data for Maryland and even your county using the new Dashboard form. That tool shows the numbers of birds crossing each night, other data, and even the expected species!

Want more information about bird travels? National Audubon Society along with many partners has just launched an interactive platform, Bird Migration Explorer! Choose a migratory species and the tool illustrates its migration patterns using the most complete set of data available. Where does your Indigo Bunting go during winter?

The map is a fantastic way to see the interconnectivity of various habitats throughout the Western Hemisphere. Lots more information about conservation and specific locations is also available there.  However you experience or explore this migration season, enjoy! And remember, please dim your lights during peak migration nights.