Where Michigan birds go for winter -- and which ones stick around

Where have all the birds gone?


Morning Musings 🤔

Birds have no idea how amazing the idea of flying is to humans.

Birds just glide through the sky, from tree to tree, roof to roof, porch to porch, seemingly effortlessly. I'm sure they don't know how envious we are.

Flying was a hard thing to figure out for us humans. Until the Wright brothers came along, we could only watch and wonder as the birds enjoyed the airy skies.

If birds were smart enough to understand English, I'd tell them to not take flying for granted. See the world, bird! Get outta here!

- Ken Haddad (Have a comment or topic idea? Contact me: Email | Twitter)

Morning Dive 🏊

You've likely already started to notice the lack of chirping in your yard. That's because, as I'm sure you're aware, many birds fly south for the winter (as do many Michiganders).

But where are those birds going? And which birds are sticking it out with us?

Michigan bird migration

Well, first off, why do birds fly south, besides to enjoy the warmer weather for the holidays? Here's a great explanation from the Michigan State University Extension:

In the most basic sense, birds migrate south for survival and return north to reproduce. They go to where there is sufficient food and protection. Geese, ducks and most waterfowl migrate south to seek open water where they find food and protection. If open water remains through the winter, some waterfowl may stay.

Other birds do not have sufficient food sources to stay through winter since the ground is frozen and natural food sources are depleted. They know when to leave based on photo periods (amount of daylight) combined with environmental factors.

Many birds spend the winter in a variety of locations. Some will travel great distances and others will not. Many Michigan birds will travel as far as Mexico, the Caribbean and even South America. Geese and ducks may only relocate to northern territories where agricultural practices provide sufficient food.

Others such as robins and woodcock fly to where the ground does not freeze so they can seek their favorite food-worms. Migration routes are typically north-south, but there are variations that take birds to the eastern U.S. coastline.

Who's leaving, who's staying

Many common Michigan birds leave for winter and return in spring. Robins, sparrows, warblers and hummingbirds are among those that leave for the comforts of a warmer climate.

Chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals and blue jays are year-round residents. Other birds migrate to Michigan for the winter from northern environments.

Pine siskins, dark-eyed juncos, snow buntings and crossbills are just some of the birds seen in parts of Michigan only during winter.

The Peterson Field Guide to Birds and Bird Nature are good sources to locate bird migrations through Michigan. Read more from MSU here.

Chatter 🗣️

Housekeeping 🧹

Hey, if you like this newsletter, let us know. We’d love your feedback. We also offer several other newsletters that probably cater to at least one of your interests -- unless you’re only interested in ground pepper. We don’t have one for ground pepper. Sorry.

- Ken Haddad (Have something to say or a topic idea? Contact me: Email | Twitter)

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