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500 Million Birds Migrating Across the United States

Dunlin Flock

Spring migration is a time of great excitement for birdwatchers and fans of wildlife and nature. Every year, the spring season brings millions of birds back from their winter homes. They migrate en masse to their springtime breeding grounds to breed, nest, and raise the next avian generation. Often, these are the very same places where they were born and bred themselves. As these enormous crowds of birds pass through the United States, birders from communities throughout the country are inundated with opportunities to check new species off their life lists, and to observe old favorites once again.

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Now, interested birders can watch the migration using BirdCast. BirdCast is a migration tracking tool which provides real time heat maps, forecasts, and tracking data which allows the user to track bird migrations in their own area and throughout the entire country. The tool is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which also administers the popular Merlin Bird ID app and eBird, as well as Colorado State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

According to current forecasts provided by BirdCast, a huge swathe of the United States is the setting for a massive migration of nearly 500 million individual birds this week. The Midwest, as well as several Southern states that lie east of the Rocky Mountains will see the highest density of migrating birds over the next several days. The epicenter of this massive migration seems to be band of activity ranging from East Texas, north to Iowa, and east to Illinois.

The flocks migrating currently vary quite a bit, with many being made up of multiple different kinds of warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and shorebirds as well as many other species. The current migration trend is on track for the numbers recorded in years previous, however the actually daily and overnight numbers have sharply spiked over the last few days.

In Texas, for example, BirdCast reports that the nightly average for birds in flight numbered at around 5.6 million birds on April 28th, 2022. On April 30th, just two days later, this nightly average had jumped to 114 million birds. This is a massive jump and one that observant birders are bound to recognize as millions of birds pass through and over their communities.

Migration is a delicate time for birds and one that is essential for the cycles of their lives. Migrating birds often stop at feeders and birdbaths, and with a migration spike like this it is highly likely that increased traffic will occur. With this in mind, backyard birders should keep in mind the ongoing outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and clean and sanitize feeders and baths accordingly. For more information about this, check out our article on responsible bird feeding throughout spring migration season.

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