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.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Advantages to flocking bird behavior

Have you noticed all the birds flocking?

I walked in to the store this morning and saw several flocks of birds flying. Many birds form flocks year round like doves, starlings, waxwings, crows, jays, and finches. Some gather in flocks after nesting season is complete.

Most blackbirds in mid-Michigan have already gathered in flocks and flown further south. In late summer, young birds from certain species like cardinals, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches have dispersed from their family to look for winter flocks. Other species like robins and bluebirds stay in a family unit and join other families until spring. Flock numbers can vary from a few birds to millions depending on the species.

Advantages to flocking bird behavior:
1) Protection - When birds join forces to flock together they can spot predators quicker and then mob, distract or confuse attackers.   
2) Foraging efficiency – Sometimes scout birds are sent out in different directions and report back to the flock where the best food can be found. You can hear Blue Jays and American Crows call out in the mornings, signaling to fellow flock members where to find the best food.
3) Finding mates – After nesting season, young chickadees fly off to find a flock to winter with along with a mate for next spring.
4) Continuing Education – Young bluebirds form family groups in the fall. Parent birds continue to teach their young how to survive until they disperse in the spring to find their own mates.
5) Fly in formations – Certain birds’ aerodynamics conserves energy and allow flock members to see each other and communicate while in flight.
6) Roosting – When large flocks congregate at night, their shared body warmth can help them survive extremely cold temperatures. 
Related Articles:
- Northern Cardinals Flock in the Fall http://bit.ly/yzzIAI
- Do hummingbirds migrate together? http://bit.ly/Asq1WR
- How to Attract Cedar Waxwings http://bit.ly/AlxIQX
- Where Bluebirds go in the Winter http://bit.ly/y2frQD
- Bird Guilds: How different birds band together to survive http://how-birds-band together.html

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