Bird migration patterns stable, says UConn Birding Club

Previous year’s fluctuations in temperature have affected migration, but this year’s season seems relatively stable. (Andrea OConnell/Flcikr Creative Commons)

Amidst the cold weather and heavy rainstorms, migration seem to be running smoothly for birds as they head south with few issues, according to UConn Birding Club member Tully Frain.

“Birds migrate safely and do pretty well for themselves,” Frain, a seventh-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major, said. “This process has been going on for millions of years, there is not really anything to fix about it; it works. It will work eventually, the birds will eventually get down south.”

Previous year’s fluctuations in temperature have affected migration, but this year’s season seems relatively stable.

“Last year, we had really weird weathering which cause migration to start and then stop and start again,” Frain said. “So if the weather is consistent throughout the season then you will see migration continue on consistently.”

Extreme weather patterns can greatly affect migration patterns, Frain said. Hurricane Florence on the southern East Coast may change some of this year’s routes.

“Weather has the greatest impact on migration,” Frain said. “One difficulty they might face is the hurricane… which might stop them and push them back up north.”

Besides the weather, birds have other issues they must face during their long journey, such as human construction in populated cities, explained Birding Club President David Mathieu, a fifth-semester molecular and cell biology major.

“The birds are attracted to the lights in skyscrapers and hit the windows and end up dying,” Mathieu said.

There are ways to circumvent these deaths, Frain said, such as using specially-paved glass that the birds can see.

“Only just a small number of them do get affected by human construction and it shouldn’t be much of a concern,” Frain said. “If we saw a significant decline in some endangered bird, maybe that would be a cause for alarm, but birds migrate safely and do pretty well for themselves.”

Currently, the season has yet to reach its peak, with many more species to take flight as the month goes on, Mathieu said.

“There’s a large group of small songbirds that will be migrating south (like the warblers). They started migrating south a couple of weeks ago,” Mathieu said. “Peak migration will be in a few weeks in late September.”


Bianca Castelan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at bianca.castelan@uconn.edu.