American bittern © Kurayaba CC BY-SA 2.0

After a protracted winter, the arrival of the spring migration is a spectacle for the senses, heralding hotter days to come back. Between February and June, thousands and thousands of North American birds take to the skies on their annual journey from their southern wintering grounds to fly north to their breeding grounds. Many settle in Ontario and others journey so far as the Arctic.

Purple-shouldered Hawk © Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren CC BY 2.0

It could be laborious to think about why birds would depart heat locations within the south to fly 1000’s of miles north in usually harmful situations. Except for a genetic predisposition emigrate, the principle motive is useful resource availability. As a result of areas just like the tropics have massive numbers of resident birds year-round, competitors for meals can be fierce. Better meals availability farther north additionally permits the birds to breed extra efficiently.

Birds plan their spring journeys to coincide with the bugs that hatch with the arrival of latest leaves on the bushes. Correct timing is crucial as a result of if birds arrive too early, earlier than meals provides can be found, they will starve. Longer daylight additionally give the birds extra time to forage.

Migratory Whimbrel © Raymond Forehead CC BY 2.0

How do birds know which approach to go?

Hikers comply with well-established routes 12 months after 12 months, touring on so-called “airways” which are like highways within the sky. Flyways normally comply with pure options similar to coastlines, mountain ranges, and river techniques. In Ontario we’re lucky to have two main flyways crossing the province (referred to as the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways) which carry with them all kinds of migratory birds similar to warblers, waders, songbirds, shorebirds and raptors.

Daytime fliers – similar to blue jays, swallows, and hawks – use panorama options and solar actions as a information. Most songbirds migrate at evening, utilizing a wide range of navigational strategies, together with the celebs and the Earth’s magnetic discipline.

songbird silhouetteSongbird Silhouette © Ada Durden CC BY 2.0

navigate threats

Birds face many challenges throughout migration, particularly in poor climate situations as birds might be thrown off target by robust headwinds or storms. Local weather change additionally poses a significant risk to the survival of migratory birds, as altering climate patterns have an effect on meals availability and timing. Inadequate fats provide and predators additionally pose important dangers.

One other main hazard for migratory birds, notably in city areas, is the chance of colliding with home windows and tall buildings, notably these which are lit at evening. We can assist keep away from collisions by placing up window markings, drawing our curtains within the evenings and ensuring our lights are off in a single day. Protecting home cats indoors throughout migration season would additionally assist cut back fatalities.

Great Blue Heron in flight in wetlandGrey Heron © Tina DaPuglet CC BY-SA 2.0

The most effective spots for chicken watching

There are lots of locations to see migratory birds all through Ontario, usually the perfect are close to our bodies of water. Birds crossing the Nice Lakes want favorable climate situations, and lots of land to refuel close to Lake Erie’s three sand pits. As such, parks like Level Pelee, Lengthy Level, and Rondeau supply nice alternatives to see birds earlier than they head out once more. Different hotspots for birds are discovered alongside the Lake Huron shoreline and in locations like Prince Edward Level and Presqu’ile, in addition to in river valleys, marshes and marshes.

Spring migration is a time to benefit from the splendor of birds returning to our province or passing by way of on their means north. We are able to all take pleasure in and respect them whereas doing our half to make sure migratory birds journey safely on their epic journeys.

Headshot by Kirsten Lavine

Kirsten Lavine is a contract author and editor who splits her time between Toronto and the UK. She has a background in oral historical past and has written a number of oral historical past and non-fiction books, extra just lately honing her writing expertise for her ardour for the outside and the setting.