About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

5 Awesome Facts About Bird Migration

Of the world's more than 9,000 species of birds, more than 400 species spend at least some time in Michigan. The list includes many songbirds ranging from the common American robin to the endangered Kirtland's warbler. September- October is the perfect time to spot new birds as they prepare for winter or travel to their winter homes:

1. What birds migrate - Between 1500 and 4000 species of birds around the world migrate, the exact answer is not really known yet. It’s estimated that of the over 200 species of birds nesting in Michigan, about 90 percent migrate to some extent. Whether it’s from the U.P. to mid-Michigan or from our state to Mexico or Central America depends on the bird.
2. Superbird transformation - To prepare for migration, birds begin a feeding frenzy called hyperphagia, to build up fat reserves they can burn through on their long journeys. Birds may gain as much as 1-10% per day. In human terms, this would mean about 12 pounds per day.
3. Migrants learn from locals – Migrants face different kinds of predators and food sources in different locations. Birds new to the area learn from the locals, listening to year-round residents for safe areas to feed and warning alarm calls about local dangers. Bird activity at baths and feeders will encourage migrating birds to stop at your yard.
3. Highest Flyer - While most migrating birds fly at heights lower than 2,000 feet, the migrating Bar-headed Goose, a species of small Asian waterfowl, has been seen at roughly 28,000 feet, over the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal.
4. Nighttime flights - Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night. On any given night in the fall, hundreds of thousands—and at times millions—of birds migrate across North America. From large herons and cranes to tiny warblers, and other smaller songbirds, flow across the continent. The timing of migration seems to be controlled primarily by changes in day length. Migrating birds navigate using celestial cues from the sun and stars, the earth's magnetic field, and some have genetically inherited mental maps.
5. Smallest intercontinental migrant - During migration hummingbirds fly about 23 miles a day until they reach the Gulf of Mexico. Then they make a non-stop 900-mile flight over the gulf that lasts about 20 hours.

When you think about migration facts, it is astonishing to learn of the amazing feat that many birds accomplish twice each year as they move between their summer and winter range and back again. Think about that when some of our favorite birds, including hummingbirds, orioles, grosbeaks, buntings, warblers and wrens migrate through mid-Michigan this fall. Keep your feeders clean and well stocked to help provide them with the fuel they will need to complete the journey.

Related Articles:
- How bird migration evolved http://goo.gl/rAXV5N
- When is bird migration over? http://goo.gl/Jbuouk
- How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://goo.gl/kIMee3
- Shortest and Longest Bird Migrations http://goo.gl/XYAEtd

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