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.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Why the birds aren't migrating

Birds have always been very good indicators of environmental change. This morning I heard the chuckle of an American Robin up in the crab apple tree. It took me a moment to identify the sound because most robins leave my territory by September to gather in large flocks looking for fruits, nuts and berries in the woods. If food is abundant, I am lucky enough to have robin flocks occasionally visit me in my mid-Michigan area throughout the winter. Robins are surprisingly hardy birds, capable of surviving temperatures well below zero. But most robins migrate to the central and southern states from November until late March.

I've also had customers remark that Red-winged Blackbirds showing up at their feeders. While not common, Red-winged Blackbirds have been known to make appearances here during the fall and winter. Blackbirds usually leave Michigan soon after nesting season is over and most fly to the southern and central states in huge male or female flocks, where they are abundant especially on farms. Over the last decade, warmer temperatures may be one reason we are seeing Red-wings still around. 

Carolina Wrens, Northern Flickers, and several other bird species at feeders in eastern North America have also started expanded their northern wintering range to regularly include Michigan. While birdwatchers may gain some extra birds at their winter feeding stations, they may also lose some in the restructuring of communities of birds. Evening Grosbeaks' population has decreased 91 percent since 1967 according to the National Audubon Society and are a rare winter visitor now. Will our now common winter visitor, the Dark-eyed Junco, follow suit? 

Related Articles:
Cardinals move north: http://goo.gl/kiMcIW
Most common winter birds in Michigan http://goo.gl/kPTb9v
Do birds know winter is coming? http://bit.ly/uVAtWL
Why are the birds eating so much in the fall? http://bit.ly/v0OC23
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/vSdpFt 

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