Bye Bye Birdie – Flying South for the Winter

Well, migration is coming to an end for the fall. Birds of prey, which migrate during the day, are still coming through…so are Sandhill Cranes. For the most part, however, the small migratory birds have already passed through our area.

Some birds migrated to southern Illinois while others went to places like the southern United States, West Indies or Central America. Migration is a very dangerous time for these birds. Not only does migration require significant stores of energy, but birds sometimes get caught in storms, get pushed out over vast bodies of water or cannot find food because of frozen ground and snow cover. They also face dangers such as window collisions, errant hunters, oil spills, and lead contamination over feeding grounds.

Birds will be resuming migration in the spring. Generally, the latest small migrants to come through Chicago in the fall are the earliest migrants to pass through in the spring. We basically see the species arrive in the reverse order that they left in the fall. Look for American Woodcocks in the spring as they will signal the beginning of migration.

We’ll still see birds during the winter. Some of these have migrated from north of here and Chicago is part of their winter grounds. Others are year-round residents.

Bye bye birdies and safe travels.

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