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The Spring Migration of Birds

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

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.

In the Mississippi Flyway

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!

Birds at Tara

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.

Spring Birding Weekend

Our Spring Birding Weekend 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.

What Causes Migration?

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.

Pelicans

Pelicans

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.

Migration Paths

See some of the paths of migratory birds on these maps:

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.

We hope to see you at Tara’s Spring Birding Weekend. Day passes and weekend packages are available! Click to view a list of activities.

Hummingbird sitting on red buckeye in our native plant garden

Hummingbird sitting on red buckeye in our native plant garden

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