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Experiencing Fall Migration – Houston Arboretum & Nature Middle Houston Arboretum & Nature Middle


Experiencing Fall Migration

Written by Kelsey Low on September 30, 2021

Blissful Fall Migration! It could have simply began to really feel like autumn, however for birds, the delicate change in daytime on the finish of August was sufficient to set off their urge to journey. Most birds in Houston are migratory: they breed up north in summer season, then journey down south for winter. “Up north” could also be so far as the Arctic tundra or as close to because the Texas panhandle; “down south” is perhaps southern Brazil or Galveston. In any case, thousands and thousands of birds go by means of Houston throughout fall migration. It’s one in all our most wonderful pure spectacles and is value celebrating! Right here’s what to search for on the Arboretum throughout this thrilling time:

Tens of millions of migrant birds go by means of Houston within the fall, like these Purple Martins.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is perhaps Houston’s favourite fall migrants. Everybody loves these tiny jewels, they usually placed on an incredible present from late August by means of September on their gradual journey south. Hummingbirds depend on flower nectar for meals as they journey, so one of the best locations to see hummingbirds are close to flowers – particularly Turk’s cap and trumpet creeper. For instance, sit on a bench close to the Nature Middle constructing and search for massive patches of Turk’s cap shrubs with their purple, curled-up flowers and massive, shiny inexperienced leaves…you’ll see a hummingbird finally! Whilst you stroll the paths (particularly the Outer Loop), search for small clearings with patches of blooming trumpet creeper. These orange, tube-shaped flowers develop on vines that cling to the trunks of enormous timber and are often excessive up off the bottom. Watch the flowers lengthy sufficient and you’ll spot a hummingbird.  

Wherever you see trumpet creeper flowers in fall, you’ll additionally see Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Many individuals don’t notice that birds of prey could be migratory too. Tens of millions of Broad-winged Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, Mississippi Kites, and extra go by means of Houston throughout fall. To see migrant raptors on the Arboretum, you want a bit luck to lookup at simply the precise time. Your finest likelihood is on heat, sunny afternoons when puffy, white, cumulus clouds are within the sky. Which means sizzling air is rising from the bottom, and that’s what the hawks are “driving” as they soar. The very best locations to see clear, open sky are the parking loops, the savanna, and the Meadow. You may even see what appears like tons of of black specks swirling excessive overhead – use binoculars and also you’ll see that it’s a migrating “kettle” (flock of hawks).

With their black wings and contrasting white our bodies, Swainson’s Hawks are simple to pick in giant flocks of migrant raptors.

Birdwatchers get essentially the most enthusiastic about fall songbirds: warblers, thrushes, tanagers, vireos, and different small perching birds. These little balls of power often migrate at night time, flying excessive within the sky till daybreak. They land in good patches of habitat just like the Arboretum to search out shelter, water, and meals. They might merely refuel for a number of hours earlier than transferring on, or they could keep for days – that’s a part of the enjoyable and frustration of birding throughout fall! Migrant songbirds are best to see alongside edges, like these between a pond and the encompassing forest, or alongside the borders of a path, or between grassy clearings and dense patches of timber. Small songbirds want to forage in mixed-species flocks centered on Carolina Chickadees. Look and hear for chickadees and you’ll typically see warblers, vireos, and flycatchers too! If you wish to discover fruit-eating migrants, search for patches of berries, particularly Virginia creeper and yaupon holly. That’s the place you’ll discover orioles, thrushes, and catbirds.

Control chickadee flocks – you would possibly simply spot a colourful fall migrant like this Chestnut-sided Warbler.

Do not forget that birds are a lot simpler to listen to than see. Hold your ears tuned for chips, squeaks, warbles, and whistles and also you’ll be more likely to detect sneaky migrants as they transfer excessive by means of the treetops or deep in patches of brush. Good luck, and we hope you get pleasure from an incredible expertise throughout fall migration!

Picture credit score: Adam Rice, Kelly Colgan Azar, Dominic Sherony, Conrad Kuiper

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