Sycamore Grove Farm, Madison County
While there are birds that live in Virginia all year round, many species are migratory –either leaving here in the spring for more northern climates where they breed, and returning to our area in the fall – or coming up from the south to breed here in Virginia and leaving in the fall to return to warmer climates during the winter.
Most birds migrate at night. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology created a marvelous tool – BirdCast - that tells you the total number of birds that fly over your county each night. This website features a Migration Dashboard with a bar chart that estimates the individual species that are moving overhead. Here in Madison County, BirdCast estimated that on September 17th, a total of 25,100 birds flew over Madison County! And it’s exciting as the list of birds includes species I have been recording in my daily eBird count.
In Sunday’s BirdCast, the birds that are leaving our area included the Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens), Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea), and the Blue-Gray Gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea).
Of course, some of the migratory birds that will show up on BirdCast will be the ones who are returning for the winter. I am particularly looking forward to seeing the Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). This little guy is a regular visitor to our bird feeders and usually spend their winter in flocks averaging in size from six to 30 or more birds. Scientists have tracked juncos and found that these birds will stay within an area of about 10 acres and often are the same birds that were in your yard last winter.
How you can support migrating birds? There are some simple things that you can do to help migratory birds during their arduous journey south. Here are two easy steps to help migratory birds:
So check out who’s coming and going this year in your county on BirdCast – and if you’re not recording birds you see on eBird, do consider starting this fascinating activity. I bet you will enjoy knowing who’s coming and going in your area.
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