You hear the honking of the geese overhead or see birds flying in a V formation overhead, and you know it's that time of year. Many animals and insects migrate. Mostly in spring and fall. Birds migrate for several reasons. To find more plentiful food sources, get to appropriate breeding grounds, and to go to a better climate. Some birds breed in one place and winter in another, milder climate. Many birds breed in Alaska and Canada because of the large, flat areas of land on which they can build their nests in large colonies. Huge numbers of birds migrate by flying hundreds and thousands of miles. They cross miles of land and water including oceans to get were they need to be. If you are a bird watcher, you need to know about migration so you will know where to bird in which season, and which birds to look for when you are out birding. Check the local Orange County Bird Checklists to see species that appear in winter or fall. Main rule of thumb is that water birds such as loons, shore birds, ducks, and geese winter in Orange County and begin appearing in the fall. (For example, Eared Grebes appear as early as September and American Wigeons in early October.) In Fall and Spring, Warblers are the main attraction. Successful birders know that to every bird species, there is a season.
Migration is the movement of animals or insects to wintering or breeding grounds. Many birds move from one place to the other in search of food or the most comfortable temperature. There are routes that birds follow that are the same every year.
The route up the Atlantic coast in which birds fly from Spring breeding grounds to Wintering grounds.
The route up the Pacific coast in which birds fly from Spring breeding grounds in the North to Wintering grounds in the South.
California as well as other states in the West are in the Pacific Flyway.
Orange County is smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Flyway. Migrants stop any place--including backyards that have food, water, and shelter.
Places that attract Migrants
In addition to Birding Hot Spots in Orange County, California, migrating birds are attracted to places they can rest, water, shelter, food. Just about any place on the Pacific or Atlantic Flyway that provides that will get some migrants from time to time. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve are two areas that get thousands of migrants each year during the fall and winter months. In fact, in addition to being great stop overs for some migrating birds, these two places are locations that some birds spend the winter. For Fall and Spring migrants, Huntington Central Park in Huntington Beach is a good place to go.
How you can help.
If you have a backyard that provides water, shelter, and food, you will provide a place for native and migrating birds.
Hazards to Migration
Hazards to Migrating birds include glass buildings, power lines, large glass areas such as glass walls, wind turbines in migration routes. Check out this International Migratory Bird Day page for more detailed information.
External Links and Resources
California Animal Migration
Pacific Flyway and bird migration video.
A book on migration published on the web by USGS and originated in the US Fish and Wildlife Service. View it all online for free.
About California's Wetlands and their importance in migration.
Article from Pomona Audubon reprinted on Sea and Sage Audubon's website.
Recently started celebration of world bird migration.
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Great site with lots of articles, fact sheets, research, education, videos, photos and even games. Play the Migration Game. Answer questions about migration and help Wanda the Woodthrush migrate.
Movements of Bird Populations from Cornell Lab
MIGRATORY SONGBIRD CONSERVATION from US Fish and Wildlife
BIRDS PROTECTED BY THE MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT from US Fish and Wildlife Service
Government agency that monitors and regulates the Pacific Flyway. Coordinates agencies among states in the Pacific Flyway.
From Audubon Magazine. How to make your backyard and attractive rest stop for migrating birds.
Links to laws of the United States about the protection of Migratory Birds.
National Geographic: Sandhill Crane Migration
Short video on the migration of the Sandhill Crane to Arizona and why they now come here.