Creating a migratory bird habitat | Living the Country Life

Creating a migratory bird habitat

Provide food, shelter, and resting places to help them along the way

From hummingbirds to Canada geese, migratory birds seek out habitat on their journey. Every year, migratory birds make the journey between North America and wintering areas in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Some travel thousands of miles, others just a few hundred miles.

Alicia King is the communications coordinator for the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program. She says it's always helpful to identify the species and plan for them. But all migratory birds appreciate food and water. "A water source can be as simple as putting a little dish out on the ground for birds to bathe in or drink from," King says. "For food, you can do things like planting native plants, things that you know will produce berries or seeds for birds, and you could also put out bird feeders."

Migratory birds that stay around also need a place to raise their young, and shelter to escape from the elements. "For nesting, you could actually leave snags in your yard. If a tree is in no danger of falling on your house or other structures, then cut it to maybe 6- to 7 ft.-high so that the birds would have a place to create a cavity, so that they can build a nest," says King. "And then being able to have shelter for them can be as simple as planting pine trees or putting out a brush pile."

Shelter can also provide a place to hide from predators such as cats and hawks. Large windows are another hazard for migrating birds. King says they don't perceive the glass, they see a reflection of the sky or trees and often fly into them. Breaking up the images can prevent this from happening.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides interesting information on tracking migratory bird patterns.

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