Get out your binoculars—birds are making their annual trek north Point Reyes National Seashore is one of the best birding spots in the country, boasting nearly 500 species. (Macduff Everton/Corbis/Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures/Corbis)
Get out your binoculars—birds are making their annual trek north
Lexile

Daffodils, cherry blossoms and tulips aren't the only things brightening up the thawing landscape now that spring is nearly here. Spring begins March 20. Right now, dozens of species of birds have left their winter homes in the south. They are embarking on their annual journey north. It is part of spring migration. In the coming weeks, even more will spread their wings. And they will follow the same route their ancestors did.
 
Spring is a particularly wonderful time for bird watching. This is according to Timothy Guida. He is a research technician at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. He spoke with Smithsonian.com.
 
"During the spring, the males have on their beautiful plumage to attract mates," he says. "So you'll see birds at their most vibrant."
 
Another bonus to spring migration is that it occurs as a mass movement. It takes place over a shorter timeframe than its fall counterpart. That is because birds are anxious to reach their breeding grounds and begin mating.
 
"During the fall, the timespan for migration is much broader, since birds typically start leaving once the temperature drops and there's a lack of food," says Guida. "But in the spring, you'll see more of a blitz over the span of several weeks. Timing is more imperative for birds to begin reproducing and raising young."
 
Birds already on their epic odyssey include pectoral sandpipers, great egrets, ospreys, western kingbirds, scissor-tailed flycatchers and brown thrashers. This is according to a report published by BirdCast. It is a subsection of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. And birds aren't the only species in migration mode. Monarch butterflies are also leaving their winter homes for the north. 
 
With all the diversity to be seen among spring migrators, you might worry about how to make the most of your bird watching outing.
 
"My advice is to not stress out by trying to see everything at once. But instead, focus on one or two species and see if you can identify them," Guida says. "I think people know more about birds than they realize. By comparing the birds you're seeing to the ones you already know, you can start piecing everything together by color or size and develop birding skills that way."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Most animals do not migrate. Why do birds migrate?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (18)
  • Desc-smi1
    3/17/2017 - 10:19 a.m.

    Birds migrates because food become low after soon so they must fly somewhere else to get food. They also migrate so they can nest where it is warm teach there young to fly then fly back.

  • susieo-coo-coo
    3/20/2017 - 09:29 a.m.

    Most animals do not migrate, but birds do migrate. Some animals do not migrate to different places because they can survive by hibernation but birds migrate from places to find more food and to find mates. In the text it says," They'll leave when the temp. starts to drop and there's a lack of food... the birds are anxious to reach their breeding grounds and begin mating"(par.4/5). This shows that the birds migrate to survive the environment and to find a good place to live. This is why birds migrate from place to place during the year.

  • charlottep-buh
    3/20/2017 - 09:39 a.m.

    I think that this is really cool. You'd think that the female's would be the pretty one's. It's cool to think that the males like to show- off. I'd really like to see these birds.

  • stephenn-coo
    3/20/2017 - 11:02 a.m.

    Birds migrate because there is no food for them to eat. The temperature drops so they mite even frees to death. The birds migrate so they can get read to begin mating in the Spring. On there way bake to home they can "begin reproducing and raising young." The resin that birds are reproducing so there can be more birds on the plaint.

  • alyssab1-bur
    3/20/2017 - 11:08 a.m.

    the birds migrate because they need to go some where warm to lay the eggs. I think other animals do not migrate because it will be to much for them to migrate.it will take other animals to long to go some where warm.

  • shanek-coo
    3/20/2017 - 11:29 a.m.

    most animals-do not migrate and some do.
    they migrate for food they hunt for food is what migrate means.
    "During the fall, the time span for migration is much broader, since birds typically start leaving once the temperature drops and there's a lack of food." when they go in hiding for winter They stock up on food and they run out in the spring. when they go looking for food they go for one or two thing at once and they usually they go for the sea.

  • myram-obr
    3/21/2017 - 01:30 p.m.

    So many people ask the question, why do birds migrate? I actually have my own interpretation of why. I believe that birds migrate because their original breeding grounds are in the north. Another reason they might migrate is because of the drop in tempature and lack of food. I actually cause a manomachy with my sisters over this particular subject.

  • sagef-obr
    3/21/2017 - 01:40 p.m.

    I think birds migrate because they are light they only have feathers. Not fur or any other type of skin. I think they are smart because they stay where its warm and I think that's smart.

  • kadyk-obr
    3/21/2017 - 01:40 p.m.

    Most animals don't migrate. Such as bears, most insects, and many others! But, there are also a lot of species that do, including butterflies and many, many birds. Birds migrate because of their need to stay in a comfortable climate, and they also need to raise their young in the warmer seasons of the year. They go north in the Summer and Spring to stay cool, and then they migrate south in the in the colder seasons, Winter and Autumn so that they don't get too cold.

  • ethand-obr
    3/21/2017 - 01:40 p.m.

    Most animals do not migrate, but birds do migrate. Some animals do not migrate to different places because they can survive by hibernation, but birds migrate from places to find more food and to find mates. In the text it says, " They'll leave when the temperature starts to drop and there's a lack of food... The birds are anxious to reach their breeding grounds and begin mating"(part 4/5). This shows that the birds to survive the environment and to find a good place to live. This is why birds migrate from place to place during the year.

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