Birds’ fall migration is underway, folks! Birds all over the world are travelling long distances to get to their winter homes. It is a very exciting time of year!
Some birds travel during the day and some travel at night. Night travel seems like it would be too grueling to be a good idea, doesn’t it? But birds who choose to travel after the sun goes down have their reasons.
The sky is calmer at night, so a bird has less turbulence to battle if it chooses to fly after the sun goes down. Additionally, the night sky is cooler, so a migrating bird can work hard flying long distances without becoming too hot.
Predatory birds, like eagles and hawks, are less of a threat for small birds at night.
Birds who migrate at night use the stars to help find their way south.
There was a full moon on Friday night. Hector and I decided to keep an eye on it. We were hoping we might see the silhouettes of birds as they flew between the moon and us. We got lucky and saw a group fly by at about midnight. We could not tell what kind of birds they were, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.
Another strategy for seeing birds who migrate at night is to wake up early and get to a good birding location first thing in the morning. As the sun rises, many birds will come down to rest after a long, hard night of flying. Hector and I plan to meet near Rock Creek Park’s Nature Center before the sun rises tomorrow morning. We hope to get lucky and see some migratory birds before they settle down to sleep the day away. Wish us luck!