Marvelous Migrants (Midwest)
Birds are on the move! Migratory birds are traveling from their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central and South America to the U.S. and Canada, where they feast on abundant insects and plant foods during spring and summer. How do they know when to leave and where to go?
Birds that migrate short distances – such as waterfowl that migrate within the U.S. – learn migration routes and from older individuals who are more experienced, usually family members. Most long-distance migrants are genetically programmed to head in a specific direction for a specific distance. A bird’s first long-distance migration is completely genetically determined, but more experienced birds may incorporate information learned on past journeys – for example, they may use learned information to return an especially good breeding location in future years.
Tip: The spring migrants you will see depend on where you live, the time of year and weather conditions.
- Long-tailed duck and Horned Grebe will be moving between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes. Look for these species on ponds, lakes and other bodies of water during stormy weather. You may hear Long-tailed duck calls as the birds are flying at night.
- Golden-crowned Kinglets and Winter Wrens can also be spotted throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest region.
The migrant bird forecasts for each region were developed using data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program, along with weather information from NOAA. Weekly forecasts are available at ebird.org. If you would like to contribute your own bird observations, learn more at ebird.org/content/ebird/about.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (click for high-res photo)
(Source: Deinlein, M. “Neotropical Migratory Bird Basics.” Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Migratory Bird Center. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ConservationAndScience/MigratoryBirds/Fact_Sheets/default.cfm?fxsht=9; eBird. BirdCast Migration Forecast: 30 March-6 April 2012, http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/bcf20120330)