Migration

September 2014

Research Recap September 17, 2014

The Green Wave of Migration

Migratory songbirds enjoy the best of both worlds—food-rich summers and balmy winters—but they pay for it with a tough commute. Their twice-a-year migrations span thousands of miles and are the most dangerous, physically demanding parts of their year.

In spring, birds follow areas of new plant growth—a so-called “green wave” of new leaves and numerous insects. In fall, particularly in the western U.S., they stick to higher elevations and head directly southward, making fewer detours along the way for food.

Surprisingly, for many North American species the best route between summer and winter homes is not a straight line, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In spring, the study shows, birds follow areas of new plant growth—a so-called “green wave” of new leaves and numerous insects. In fall, particularly in the western U.S., they stick to higher elevations and head directly southward, making fewer detours along the way for food.

“We’re discovering that many more birds than anyone ever suspected fly these looped migrations, where their spring and fall routes are not the same,” said Frank La Sorte, a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “And now we’re finding out why—they have different seasonal priorities and they’re trying to make the best of different ecological conditions.”

The research—the first to reveal this as a general pattern common to many species—may help land managers improve conservation efforts by improving their understanding of how birds use habitat seasonally.

Read the full article on the All About Birds blog

This Month’s Articles

Moth-Eaten Migration Myths

Factoid September 25, 2014

The Green Wave of Migration

Research Recap September 17, 2014

The One Thing You Can Do To Help Migrants

Take Action September 10, 2014

Does It Migrate? Quiz

Interactive September 3, 2014

One Comment

  1. pat hume says:

    Congratulations!!!
    I love your articles, pictures, everything! I only wish there was more info for my region, Cuernavaca, Mexico. Do you know where I can get it?
    Thanks!

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