Many Wild Birds Head North as Part of Spring Migration

As the trees begin to bud and the first flowers nose their way out of the ground, the internal clocks of many North American songbirds send a message that it’s time to head north.

More than 300 bird species found in the United States and Canada spend the winter in the lush forests of Mexico and South and Central America. As the seasons change, they know it’s time to travel to their summer breeding grounds, where they’ll find the right food and nesting materials to bring a new brood into the world.

Many of these trips span more than 7,000 miles and some involve flying nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico. And without a compass or other navigational tools, it’s believed that many birds find the right course by orienting their route to the positions of the stars. Others seem to be sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field.

Backyard bird feeders enjoy each spring’s migration, because it brings a wide variety of species to their feeders. Throughout their journey, migrating birds are on the lookout for places to rest and refuel. Some may stay in an area for a few days while they prepare to travel farther north. Others might drop in for a quick nibble and drink before taking flight again.

By providing a source of fresh water and food and having a backyard habitat that gives birds plenty of places where they can rest out of the reach of predators, birds will be able to build up the energy they need for successful migration.

Many backyard bird feeders keep a list of all the species that have visited their yards. By varying the food that’s available in your yard, you can attract different species.