Facilitating spiritual and cultural transformation through connection with wild spaces, with the help of God and neighbor, to create a world where wildlife and wild spaces are known as neighbors worthy of our love, kindness, compassion and care.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Icredible Biological Spectacle of Bird Migration

Wilson's warbler at Woodland Park
I sauntered along the trail beneath a canopy of vibrant green leaves at Woodland Park; flashes of scarlet, indigo, yellow, and orange zipped about all around.  In this setting I was awestruck by my awareness that the place where I stood afforded me a glimpse into one of the greatest biological spectacles in the world...bird migration!
It is true that bird migration is a global biological spectacle in which all inhabitants of planet earth are securely immersed. My vantage point at any given time provides a tiny snapshot of an event that spans two continents and, as the crow flies, about 10,000 miles from the southern tip of South America to the northwest corner of Alaska! Now, the majority of the birds that I was watching on this sunny day in mid-May likely covered only about 4,000 miles to get here after wintering in the forests of northern South America. No small feat!

Chestnut-sided warbler at Woodland Park
Here at Woodland Park I stood, mouth agape in wonder, heart filled with thankfulness and joy, while scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, blackburnian warblers, hooded warblers, northern parulas, black-throated-green warblers, Baltimore orioles, ovenbirds, and others gleaned insects from among the branches.

Some of the best news for all of us during this month of May is that, what I experienced at Woodland Park this morning is not unique to Woodland Park! Wherever each of us are, whether in a city or a countryside, we can take a moment to let the welcome of wild spaces wash over us in the form of bird migration.

Scarlet tanager at Woodland Park
Generally speaking, the smaller the woodlot, the more densely packed the full avian diversity will be. This time of year, whether coniferous forest, deciduous forest, meadow, or wetland; every small wild space in town or city holds its own avian treasures; many of which will continue the journey farther north, and some which will settle in to breed. This is one of the reasons why every small wild space (even if its only a small seemingly insignificant woodlot) that maintains some semblance of natural habitat holds value for conservation.

I encourage you to go spend time in some wild space so you can enjoy the incredible biological spectacle of bird migration, even if its just a 10 minute walk through a small local woodlot. You may even feel inspired to submit your bird observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's global database for bird observation and conservation, eBird.org.

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