The Wonders of Migration

Each autumn, many wild birds make an incredible journey. As the days get colder, and foods like fruit and insects get scarce, they move south to warmer lands (or north if they live in the Southern Hemisphere). This is known as migration.

Some species only move a hundred miles, or move from mountaintops to warmer lowlands. But others travel huge distances: Canada to Mexico, England to Africa, or Russia to Australia.

They’ll take these journeys in small steps, traveling at night, and eating during the day to fuel their next flight.

But other amazing birds make the journey all at once. For instance, the tiny Ruby – throated Hummingbird crosses the entire Gulf of Mexico in a single 600-mile-long flight! The Bar-tailed Godwit, a large sandpiper, takes off from western Alaska and doesn’t land until 6,800 miles later, in New Zealand!

Observant birdwatchers can see migration happening in their own backyards. Bird species that have been missing half the year suddenly reappear in spring or fall. Unusual birds may also pass through, on their way north or south.

Some birds, like sandpipers, can gather in huge flocks just before migrating-sometimes these flocks have millions of birds- a spectacle that, once seen, is hard to forget.