The spring migration of birds has begun! This is the time of year that birds that have been overwintering in Central and South America begin to return to our area.
Tara is fortunate to be right along a principal route of the Mississippi Flyway, which is a migratory route for neotropical birds and waterfowl that follows along the Mississippi River. We get a front and center seat to watch spring migration.
Around 326 bird species use the Mississippi Flyway each year. Forty percent of all migrating waterfowl in North American use the Mississippi Flyway. That’s a lot of birds flying north!
The first birds start to appear at Tara in March. These are the waterfowl, ducks, geese, and red-winged blackbirds. The eagles and hawks are quick to follow. In April, the songbirds start showing up. Indigo Buntings, Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Warblers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks begin migrating on April 1st and continue through rest of the month and some into May. By June, most of the migrating birds have completed their journey.
Our Spring Birding Weekend (April 28-30th) is the perfect opportunity to view birds migrating along the flyway. Some of our favorites to see at this time of the year include Painted Buntings, Prothonotary Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and Baltimore Orioles. Read our article Our Top 5 Spring Migratory Birds at Tara.
There are many factors that may trigger or contribute to this migration of birds including the length of the day, the change in temperatures, change in food supplies, and bird genetics.
As the daytime temperatures start to rise in spring, more plants begin to bloom and produce leaves and more insects are available as food, allowing birds traveling northward to have access to more food sources as well as nesting sites.
See some of the paths of migratory birds on these maps:
- See the map of spring migration that shows winter range, migratory path, and dates of first arrival
- Migration map of Painted Bunting
- Prothonotary Warbler
- Other birds
- Regional migration forecast
- Animated migration map for 118 bird species
The earliest Ruby-throated hummingbirds will start to appear in mid-March, so get your feeders out! Also, keep an eye on the red buckeyes as they start to bloom, both hummingbirds and butterflies will feed on these early bloomers.