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BirdCast's bird migration forecast from May 19, 2022.
BirdCast's bird migration forecast from May 19, 2022.

It seems like every spring we wait in eager anticipation for the migrating birds to return. Whether it is seeing the first robin, geese overhead, warblers, or watching the first hummingbird and oriole at the feeder, it is a much-anticipated event. Now, with the help of the BirdCast website we can gain a better understating of these birds’ migrations and perhaps a better idea of when they will show up in our area.

BirdCast is a cooperative effort between the EPA, National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Clemson University Radar Ornithology Laboratory, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and Geo Marine, Inc to develop and implement a bird migration monitoring assessment and public outreach program. The objectives are to predict and monitor bird migrations on a daily basis using weather radar; to collect and disseminate volunteer’s reports of bird sightings; and to raise public awareness about sensitivity of migratory bird populations.

BirdCast has a website that posts educational information about bird migration. If you go to the BirdCast website, the Migration Tools section contains a number of fun and useful maps and alerts on bird migration such as Bird Migration Forecast Maps showing migration maps for the next three nights. There are also Live Bird Migration Maps showing real-time analysis maps of intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration, as detected by weather surveillance radar.

One can also explore the Migration Dashboard and search by location. For example, from 9:00pm May 4 to 6:20am on May 5, about a million and a half birds passed over Bottineau County. Plus, you can see graphs of birds in flight, their altitudes, flight direction and speed, and a list of migration times along with a graph of the migration of individual bird species.

So, checkout BirdCast. I think you will have some fun with it and also learn a lot about our migratory birds and predictions concerning their arrival. Plus, it might get you outdoors at night to hear or perhaps even see some of the birds on their migration. And it could even develop into a citizen science effort for you.

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of "Natural North Dakota"and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, Chuck has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror, and his “The Naturalist” columns appear in several other weekly North Dakota newspapers.
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