Fall Bird Migration
Author: Gayle Olson
Fall is the time of the year when many birds are busy preparing for the long
journey to their winter homes. Migration is the movement of birds and other
animals from one home to another. Some birds will fly thousands of miles to
reach their winter homes!
Birds begin the journey to their winter homes before the food supply in the
north runs out. Day length and temperature plays a part in triggering the birds'
internal seasonal clocks. Shorter and cooler days means that the food supply is
running out. When the water in ponds and lakes begin to freeze over, waterfowl
cannot get at food easily and it is time to fly south where it is warmer and
open water and food can be found.
In the fall birds begin to flock together getting ready for the big trip south.
This is the time of the year when you will see flocks of blackbirds feeding on
berries or the V-formation of flocks of geese in flight. It is an important time
to build up strength and fuel up for the dangerous voyage.
Birds use fat as fuel for their journey. It is important that they have enough
to eat before they leave so they are able to store enough fat for the long
distance they must travel. Some birds make many stops, filling up with enough
food to make it to the next stage of their journey.
Birds face many hazards during migration. Some may get blown off course or get
caught in a storm. Some birds don't have enough food or fat stored to complete
the trip. Hunters claim thousands of ducks and geese each year during fall
hunting season. Changes in forestry, agriculture and urban expansion are
difficult for birds. These changes affect the habitats of birds and other
wildlife. Migrating birds depend on the forests and wetlands and sometimes
cannot adapt to the changes.
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