May 16, 2012

Spring bird migration tip #5


“I have to wake up early to see the birds.” Yes and no. It often comes as a major surprise that the tiny song birds that travel from South and Central America are actually flying at night. This fact has only become clear to scientists in the past few decades in large part to use of Doppler RADAR. Large areas or “angels” were being seen on weather radar, moving a velocity not consistent with the wind direction. It turns out that travel at night means less turbulent air and smoother flight and the presence of diurnal predators like Cooper Hawks and small falcons.  Birds leave shortly after sunset and fly for several hours landing pre-dawn to rest, and eat, eat, eat.

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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