How weather affects bird migration

As I sit here on this hot day, the first day of summer, my mind wanders back to the unusual pattern of bird migration this spring. As they moved north, they met three snow storms in mid-April. Many landed with large flocks being stranded in Fort Frances and the surrounding area. Food was needed for them to survive and they found it in the yards where winter feeders hung.

My yard was filled with dozens of birds. Seeds in the feeder disappeared quickly, so I threw more o the ground after clearing the snow away.

I was amazed at the variety of species. Starlings, grackles and red winged blackbirds dominated. Among those also were the purple, gold and house finches, the white-throated, song, house and tree sparrows, pine siskins, blue jays, robins, chickadees, a hermit thrush, a killdeer and several I couldn’t identify.

After a week, warm weather prevailed. Most of the birds left, with the local ones spreading out into the district and the rest continuing northward.

But where were the tree swallows and bluebirds? Did they get lost in the storms or did they decide to nest a bit to the south?

Of course, the finally arrived. Tree swallows began nesting. On May 30 I monitored the birdhouse lines and found 44 active nests and three bluebird nests.

Out of curiosity I contacted Bill Read, president of the Eastern Bluebird Society to find out how bluebirds in the Cambridge area were doing.

He said, “By April 28, 55 pairs of bluebirds had laid their eggs and most were scheduled to hatch next week!”

The weather not only dictates bird migration; it also has an influence over when to nest.