Fall's Journey South
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As the fall season progresses, weekly migration stories will arrive from the places
shown below. Many are told from some of North America's most
important refuges--critical resting places during migration. Read each story
and look for clues:
- What fall changes trigger these migrations?
- How can you help "Unpave the Way" for Wildlife?
Fall's Journey South
September 4 - Nov. 20, 1998
(News will be posted on the dates shown
below. Please come back then.)
4, 1998: Songbirds at Sea
Imagine yourself at sea, surrounded by water, miles from land, in
the middle of the night. Biologists stationed in the Gulf of Mexico on oil platforms
will tell us what it's like as 1/2 billion birds cross the Gulf this fall. Songbirds
are migrating everywhere right now. Stand outside late at night and you might hear
them overhead. The parade begins every year in mid-August. Why do they leave so early?
#2 September 11, 1998: Dragonflies
and Kestrels Fly By
Monarch butterflies aren't the only insects that migrate. Some dragonflies
do too. Hawk counters find huge numbers of dragonflies during hawk migration, and
watch migrating Kestrels gobble them up as they both move along. Why do you think
they're all traveling now?
#3 September 18, 1998: Non-Stop
Flights Now Departing
Tiny Blackpoll Warblers are gathering at the edge of the Atlantic
Ocean, preparing for the flight of their lives. Some will fly 48 hours non-stop over
the ocean, nearly 2,000 miles. They must double their weight to fuel the trip. What
do you suppose they're eating? Do birds go south because their food is running out
or because the weather gets cold?
#4 September 25, 1998: Hero Helps
Migration is dangerous--the only thing worse would be staying through
the northern winter! But many birds won't survive the journey. Lighted buildings
and towers are among the worst killers--bird deaths at these are estimated in the
millions each fall. Why is foggy weather so dangerous for night migrants? What are
people doing to help?
#5 October 2, 1998: How do Hurricanes
Affect Migration? Woodpeckers are known to hide in treeholes,
shorebirds might head for the golf course, and at least one Tropicbird from Bermuda
has been blown to Vermont. Why don't hurricanes hit the West Coast as they do the
East and Gulf Coasts? This has been a dramatic week for weather
and birds alike!
9, 1998: Loons--Research and Migration
The race is on! Throughout Canada and the northern states, baby loons
are running on the surface of lakes, flapping hard. Some are practicing for their
first takeoff but most are already on the move. Why are loons
from Maine so much bigger than ones from Michigan? And what are all those loons on
the ocean crying about?
#7 October 16, 1998: Whooooo Knows
Miniature Saw-whet Owls are now moving silently through the nighttime
skies over much of Canada and the northern US. Imagine holding one in your hand and
banding it! What information do banders learn about birds? Why do Saw-Whet owls migrate
when many other owl species stay at home for the winter?
#8 October 23, 1998: Ducking the
Over half a million ducks, geese and swans are arriving
on the Chesapeake Bay for the winter. What birds of prey are following them? Why
do most of the larger hawks and eagles migrate later than the smaller hawks and falcons?
Why do most insect-eating waterfowl migrate later than most insect-eating songbirds?
October 30, 1998:
Flocks of Robins Hiding Out
Millions of robins are quietly skulking around in the southern states
right now. It's harder to notice a thousand wintering robins than just two spring
males. Why are they so sneaky? Some of the worst dangers they will face this winter
are caused by humans. How can we help them?
November 5, 1998:
Whooping Cranes Now Arriving in Texas--Finally!
The Whooping Cranes are finally arriving at Aransas NWR in Texas!
The "first sighting" on October 28 is the latest return date in 35 years!
Tom Stehn shares some history on the cranes'return dates, and the results of his
recent aerial crane surveys. Also, read how the late summer tropical storms have
impacted the cranes' wintering grounds at Aransas. Will this have a positive or negative
effect for the cranes?
November 6, 1998:
Non-Stop Flights Now Arriving
Many songbirds have completed their non-stop flight across
the Gulf of Mexico. Get a first-hand report from the Yucatan about the migrants that
have arrived. Also, the Symbolic Art Gallery is now open, and the Symbolic Songbird
Passenger List is ready--is your school on board?
November 13, 1998:
Friday the 13th Unlucky Day for Eagles?
Bald Eagles winter as far north as Canada and Alaska, wherever
they find open water. They don't mind dead fish, even chopped up ones, so they gather
at dams, and sometimes learn to steal fish and bait from ice fishermen. Eagles that
survive their first winter have a long life expectancy. The trick for babies is getting
through this winter alive. What are some unlucky things that could happen to an eagle
South: November 20, 1998
What's life like in the far north in winter? Journey North talked
to the manager of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and to Joy Hamilton's class
in Shageluk, Alaska, at the Innoko River School. What birds stay throughout the winter?
How do kids play outside when it's dark almost all the time--and colder than 40 below
1998: Whooping Crane Migration Update
Tom Stehn reports that 179 Whooping Cranes have returned to
Aransas to date. But why is this number disappointing and a concern?