The fall migration is underway. Many birds are heading south to warmer locations, and some are just arriving as they relocate from the north. Various factors and cues spur migratory movement such as the amount of daylight, the angle of the sun, cooling temperatures and the availability of food.
Many warbler species, flycatchers, swallows, ruby-throated hummingbirds and nighthawks are in the midst of their migration, and the majority of orioles and martins have already departed. Raptors are also on the move. Red-breasted nuthatches, crossbills and dark-eyed juncos should arrive from the north very soon.
One of the finest viewing sites for raptors in North America is Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth where birders can see vast numbers of sharp-shinned hawks, broad-winged hawks, American kestrels, bald eagles, osprey, turkey vultures and other raptors from early September through mid-November.
Peak migration typically occurs from mid-September to late October at Hawk Ridge.
Another Minnesota hot spot to view the hawk migration is Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center in Hastings. The Nature Center is located along the St. Croix River, a “highway” for birds heading south.
Did You Know?
Migratory birds need to consume additional calories this time of year to endure their arduous journeys to wintering sites. Some birders report that their feeders are already busy with migratory and resident birds. Draw these birds into your yard and view them from the comfort of your home while helping them get the calories they need. Water is just as important as food.
While birdbaths are helpful, any water source that moves, splashes or mists will coax birds to your backyard, and moving water is typically cleaner and less stagnant than standing water.
The flurry of activity at our feeders in the fall makes this a great time to introduce a child to birding.