Through networks of birdwatchers and surveyors who compile and report an abundance of data, we are able to estimate when bird species will begin their migrations and when they will arrive in certain areas along their routes. For the birds, migration is timed very specifically and often coincides with weather events, melting snow, and the emergence of insects. Keep in mind that timing varies year to year and depends on the above factors. However, once these birds reach their final destinations, they have the spring and summer to stake a territory, build a nest, lay eggs, and raise their young before the fall migration.
For our region you may expect to see purple martins and broad winged hawks passing through during the first two weeks of April. From April 16-30 keep an eye out for traveling barn swallows, ruby throated hummingbirds, black and white warblers, and northern parulas. Early May will bring us indigo buntings, baltimore and orchard orioles, rose breasted grosbeaks, and blue winged warblers. Click here for a full list of spring migratory birds for the northeast region, including migration maps and dates.
As excited as we become upon seeing our forests and fields come alive during this time of year, it is important to remember the current threats facing migratory birds. Changing climates disrupt timing patterns and threaten major habitats. Buildings and cars also pose a huge danger for birds; on average 300 million to 1 billion birds die each year from hitting buildings, and millions more die from being struck by cars. Furthermore, 1 million each day die from attacks by pet cats, and the majority of these deaths occur during spring and fall migrations. Want to help migratory birds? Click here and read about the top 10 ways to assist.
Read more information on migration basics, how birds find their way, and how scientists study migration.