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Migration Takes Flight at Tifft Nature Preserve | Environment

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Migration Takes Flight at Tifft Nature Preserve
Migration Takes Flight at Tifft Nature Preserve

You take flight. Only feathers, muscle, and air power your movement through the sky. The journey is long and dangerous but your survival, and the survival of your kind, depends on it.  Green, brown, and a vastness of blue give way to concrete human habitats absent of food, water, or shelter. After thousands of miles of evading predation, formidable weather and countless other hazards, you arrive. Your journey has ended this Spring only to begin again in the Fall. This is the way of your species. This is bird migration.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) was created in 1993 by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of Washington D.C. and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology of Ithaca, New York. It is a widespread celebration of the incredible, annual phenomenon of bird migration. Although IMBD is officially observed on the second Saturday of May, the actual arrival of migratory birds in the Northern Hemisphere is completely dependent on the species, region and weather. For more information on IMBD, check out the numerous resources at www.birdday.org.

Spring migration is in full swing at Tifft Nature Preserve. Different kinds of birds mark migration’s progressing stages. A spectacular array of migratory waterfowl  such as Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon, and Lesser Scaup arrived weeks ago and many have moved on to more northern breeding grounds. Just three days after the Spring Equinox, the Turkey Vultures returned to Tifft from winter ranges as far south as South America. To many birders, these large, black, carrion-eating birds – not our resident American Robins – are the true heralds of the season. A pair of Osprey are frequently seen on the platform nest next to the Visitor Center and migratory songbirds such as Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow Warbler, and even a Summer Tanager are presently arriving at the preserve.

Some of these species will stop to eat, drink, and rest before continuing north while others will settle down at Tifft to raise a family and perpetuate their species. For a listing of updated bird species sightings at Tifft, check out our Bird Sightings Blog.

Adequate habitat is a key factor in the survival of an individual bird and its ability to successfully migrate, mate, and raise young. Without it, the individual bird will perish as well as the potential for subsequent generations. In 1998 Tifft Nature Preserve earned the distinction of “Important Bird Area” (IBA) by the National Audubon Society because of the natural habitat and essential resources it provides to over two hundred different migratory and breeding bird species. To learn more about the international Important Bird Area program, click here.

On May 4th, Tifft hosted an International Migratory Bird Day Bird Walk by local birder and published author, Alec Humann. Participants enjoyed an early morning stroll on the trails in search of elusive migrating warblers as well as the more conspicuous Red-winged Blackbirds and Downy Woodpeckers. Every bird species, whether seen once or repeatedly, was revered as participants new to the world of birding became enchanted by their experience at Tifft.

Visit Tifft Nature Preserve to join the celebration of bird migration and witness the beauty and wonder of the birds for yourself. Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk with regular guided walks on Thursdays at 10am and Sundays at 2pm. To confirm walks are taking place or for more information, call Tifft at 825-6397. Upcoming May and June programs are listed at http://www.sciencebuff.org/tifft-nature-preserve/ and include:

Chicks, Kits, and Pollywogs (a Friends of Tifft Event) Sunday, May 19th, 2-4 PM

Spring is a time for new arrivals at Tifft, so come down to check out the most “Awwww” inspiring animals on the preserve! Join us for a presentation about all our adorable youngsters and a short hike to spot these new additions in the wild! $3 per person; $10 maximum per family. Free for FOT members

Article orginally published on www.thegoodneighborhood.com

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