Many bird species return or pass through our region in April and May for the breeding season.
Migration is extremely risky for birds: unpredictable weather, predators, window collisions, and food scarcity are all threats, never mind the raw physical exertion needed to fly continuously for hours at a time for days or weeks on end.
So why would they do it?
The general thinking is because there’s plenty of food for birds to feed their newly hatched young. There’s no shortage of insects in the north, as anyone who spend time outdoors from April through June is well aware.
Although birds have been making these trips for millennia, there are many ways you can support them on their journey:
- Keep your feeders well stocked with fresh, high-quality food. Consider hulled seed to make it easier for them to access precious calories. Some species, especially Eastern Bluebirds, love mealworms.
- Shut your feeders down for a few days if you have a bird predator hanging around.
- Set up hummingbird and oriole feeders in late-April to be ready for their typical arrival around May 1st, and refill them often to keep their contents from fermenting.
- Keep your cats indoors (one study by an Environment Canada scientist estimates that cats kill 100-350 million birds every year in Canada!)
- Plant nectar-producing flowers that bloom early to support hummingbirds.
- Put decals or UV strips on your windows to reduce potentially fatal window collisions.
- Consider a setting up a bird bath or other water feature.