Migration Q&A

silhouettes of birds flying high against an orange sky

What triggers migration?

Millions of birds migrate to and from breeding grounds and wintering grounds. Migration is thought to be triggered by several things including: the number of daylight hours, temperature and food supply. As the days become shorter, the birds intuitively know it’s time to go.

What time of day do birds migrate?

Most backyard songbirds migrate at night when the winds are calmer.

How do they find the way?

They use several cues or “maps” to guide them along their route such as the position of the sun and stars, the earth’s magnetic pull and genetics/homing instincts. North/South flyways are used by mass numbers of birds because they provide food for refueling, resting areas and a certain amount of safety from predators.

Does feeding birds deter migration?

It is a misnomer that continuing to feed the birds well into fall will deter them from migrating. Rather, feeding birds as they migrate through will help them to refuel and recharge. Additionally, we are seeing a rise in year-round residency among some birds i.e. Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins, which is likely related to the availability of open water as well as food.

By Eagan Store Manager ANN MCCARTHY