Why Bother Migrating?



Why do birds migrate? Wouldn’t it be simpler and safer for wild birds to stay in the same regions they nest in rather than risk flying thousands of miles twice each year?
In truth, if birds did not migrate their lives would be even more difficult to survive than making their vast journeys. If no birds migrated, natural food sources in their breeding areas would be depleted very quickly and many baby chicks would starve. Competition for nesting sites would, ultimately, be extremely fierce and the population of predators would increase due to the higher concentration of breeding birds and the easy meals of the nestlings. The main reason some birds migrate is for food and nesting purposes.
Each spring, natural food sources are replenished as migrating, nesting birds arrive. As the food supplies dwindle in the fall, migrating birds leave to other replenished food sources in the tropics. This cycle has served wild birds well for centuries.
This blueprint of migrating for food also applies to our short range migrants as well. Known as irruptions, these unique paths of movement are also due to a lack of natural food sources. Irruptions become larger when food sources in northern regions are inadequate, forcing wild birds to search for food further south than their normal territories.
A phenomenon known as fallout is just one danger migrating birds face during a long journey. From around March-May, weather conditions periodically exist where very strong, turbulent winds and rain create the ‘fallout.’ This naturally happens when a virulent cold front crosses the Texas coast and moves into the Gulf of Mexico during the daylight hours. The rain and wind practically stops the migrating birds, forcing them to use up most of their energy reserves. Thousands of exhausted migrating birds are forced to seek any shelter and available food when they finally reach the coastline. Without adequate, natural habitats along this important coast, tens of thousands of birds would perish each migration.
Enjoy your birds!

Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996.