Lands Conservancy benefits Migrating Birds

Posted on 08. May, 2011 by in World of Wonder, WOW! Blog

Loss of Habitat is a major threat to the survival of migratory birds. This is one of many reasons I value the work of Davidson Lands Conservancy and Lands Conservancies all over the world.

I enjoy watching birds year round and love to see the familiar feeder-birds and other backyard visitors. Many of the birds we see in winter are year round residents of this area. Examples are Northern Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Eastern Blue Birds, and Carolina Wrens. Others come here for the winter like White Throated Sparrows with their lovely mournful song that sounds to some people like “My Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada” and Canada is likely where they go in the summer. Several other sparrows like the Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Juncos and White Crowned Sparrows along with Purple Finches and Pine Siskins fall into the group that winter here and migrate north for the summer.


Then, there are the birds who visit us in the summer. Just this last week we put out our hummingbird feeder and within a day noticed the level of the nectar going down. Soon, I spotted that first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. And then, I was walking down the street here in Davidson and I heard the song of a Black-throated Green Warbler, yes I heard “zee-zee-zoo-zoo-zee”. Overhead I saw Barn Swallows swirling late in the afternoon chasing down insects. And early in the morning I’m listening for the call of the Wood Thrush and praying I’ll be lucky enough to hear it here one more time. All of these are among the migratory birds that travel through our area on their way north or choose to stay here for the spring and summer breeding season.


Scientists are interested in how birds navigate in their migration, how global warming is impacting their migration, how some birds are able to fly so far across water without eating or drinking. Consider the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. These truly amazing little beauties fly from their winter home in Mexico or Central America north to their summer breeding gounds. Many of them cross the Gulf of Mexico as they head north. How do they do that? We think of them as sipping nectar from flowers or from our feeders but they are also voracious insect eaters and the protein they get from bugs is more likely the fuel that carries them so far. There is so much for us to learn. This is a link to an article about bird migration and more general information about birds.

Many of the birds we see in the summer and consider “our birds” spend a large part of the year in another place. For many of our songbirds South and Central America, and Mexico are home for a lot of the year. By preserving woodland habitat in North America, Lands Conservancies like DLC play an important role in maintaining the population of birds. In addition these birds need land in their southern homes to be preserved. Every year there are stories of land being cleared in Mexico, Central America and South America for agriculture and grazing of cattle to be sold to people here in the US. Without adequate woodland habitat in the southern homes of these birds and in their northern homes the populations will continue to decline. I want to know that generations to come will hear the beautiful call of the Wood Thrush, will see the beauty of the Scarlet Tanager and experience the joy of seeing a hummingbird hover in the air. Unless we find ways to preserve their needed habitats we can expect many of these birds to become extinct.





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