Why & When do Birds Migrate? | What Birds Migrate & Which are Migratory Birds

A lovely evening by the beach, it would be a beautiful sight to see a flock of birds flying across the sky in a pattern that only they can comprehend. They might be returning to their homes. Or Wait, they could even be migrating to the other side of the world. 

Birds are one of the ecological creatures that play a main part in the very existence of an ecosystem balance. They can be insectivores, frugivores, nectarivores, carnivores, and omnivores. Most of the birds are generalists in nature, while only a very few are very specific about their habitat and food requirements. 

As much as animals play an important role in the balance of an ecological cycle, birds do play an important role too. They act as important pollinators, when they feed on multiple nectar-filled plants, and are also key role players in the dispersal of seeds across the world. Their existence mostly involves searching for food all through the day – based on which they keep changing their locations and habitats. 

People have very common remembrance of birds flying across the sky, but very least idea about Why & when do birds migrate. 

Why & when do birds migrate?

Birds Migrate when they observe a lesser availability of resources in the region they exist for the current being. They prefer to cross the seas when they need to optimize their breeding habitat, and food resources. Availability of adequate food and comforting nesting locations are the primary reasons why birds migrate and keep changing their locations. 

They do not migrate at any fixed time. The migrating time depends on the bird’s preference and type. Nocturnal birds prefer flying over the night, while diurnal birds prefer flying anytime during the day or night. 

Related Read: Do crows stay in the same area? | Do they Migrate?

Related Read: Do pigeons fly at night?

Some birds undertake longer migrations and there are birds that don’t even prefer flying to the next state or country.  Whenever they feel their life resources going below or decreasing, they prefer to migrate to areas of higher resource availability. 

Every species follows a different timing when it comes to migration. Timing is the key. They prefer to fly at a time that fits in-between “too early” or “too late”. They fly in such a way that their energy levels and availability of food resources support them throughout the journey. 

Which are Migratory Birds?

Birds that travel from one location to another at regular intervals irrespective of the distances, with the direction of the wind as their compass, are generally called Migratory Birds. 

Processing this information, one’s mind might automatically ask next – “So, Do all Birds Migrate?”. Not all birds migrate. Only a few species prefer to migrate considering their needs.

Migratory birds in general, follow a pattern when it comes to migrating locations. While most of the birds fly from north to south, there are a few birds that follow a circular pattern while migrating.  It is the species of Oceanic birds that prefer to migrate in circular patterns. 

Migration isn’t all easy for the birds. When the wind direction isn’t in their favor, they face practical difficulties while flying. Of late, climate change has become unpredictable and unexpected. If the wind’s direction alters or becomes unfavorable, it could result in becoming the killer of a large number of birds. 

Migration is an integral part of the birds’ survival. If you think you can make all the arrangements for the bird to stay right where they are and survive – you are wrong. Their Body prepares them for the natural habitat, and that is why they are capable of moving whenever their body and the changing survival conditions signal them.

There are international agreements signed between countries for this particular reason – to let the birds be how they are, and breed accordingly.  

What birds Migrate? 

Migratory birds have a timely cycle that they follow on their journey. Not all the new birds flying across the sky are migratory. But, you could always keep a watch on your bird-feeders in case you spot some new visitors. They could be a species that migrates from time to time. 

Related Read: Do Birds Get Tired Of Flying | How Long Can Birds Fly Without Stopping?

Birds can be segregated into groups based on the distance they travel or fly to migrate. There are 

Permanent Residents:

They do not travel or relocate places in search of food or resources? Gooses and Doves are common examples of permanent residents. They prefer to live with whatever grains or fruits are available over their region of presiding. 

Short Distance Migrants

They travel a very short distance in search of resources. Example: flying from a hilltop to the plains. Birds like Waxwings and American Tree sparrows travel only a few kilometers in search of food. 

Medium Distance Migrants:

They travel medium distances in search of resources. Example: flying from one state to the other. Bluebirds, Blue Jays, and Killdeers are a few species that travel all year-round over short distances to keep their food requirements satisfied. 

Long-Distance Migrants:

They travel an entire continent to continent in search of food or resources. Example: flying over from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. Hummingbirds and Swans are capable of flying over a large mile distance to balance their life cycle. 

The list that tracks the migratory birds keeps going on. Yet, a few species including 

  • Flamingos
  • Siberian Cranes
  • White Pelicans
  • Asian Sparrow-hawks 
  • Bluethroats 
  • White Starks
  • Hawk-Cuckoos 
  • Hummingbirds etc.,  and many more 

Can often be spotted across the skies – migrating from one place to the other. It cannot be specifically stated if all the birds migrate for the same reason and requirement – it might differ from species to species.  

Migration is the key to their survival. Their ways of migration or need for migration might differ from species to species – which is an endless topic to study about.

Related Read: How to keep birds off my porch? | Best ways to keep birds away.

Leave a Comment