Oriole Migration Update: March 18, 1999
Today's Report Includes:
Weather or Not?
Oriole migration is expected to start in April Although orioles leave the tropics because their internal rhythms, the length of daylight, and the position of the sun in the tropical sky all tell them it's time to go, most of their actual flights will depend on weather conditions. While you're waiting for their migration to begin, learn more about the weather patterns that will affect them at the Journey North Weather Primer.
Oriole Migration Mysteries
For thousands of years, the first migrants of spring seemed to humans to have just appeared out of nowhere! Many people once believed that swallows burrowed in mud for the winter, or flew to the moon! When people started traveling and communicating over long distances, they suddenly realized that birds traveled. In the late 1700s, John James Audubon tied a string around a phoebe's leg to see if that exact bird would return the next year. Sure enough, it did, and then other ornithologists started putting rings on bird legs to study them. Now scientists banding birds use special numbered rings, and all banding research is coordinated through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Unpave the Way for Orioles!
When orioles migrate, they will face hunger and danger as they move through unfamiliar territory. We can help them by providing food to keep their energy up as they pass through, and by growing the kinds of plants that will provide homes for them to stay and nest. Just cut an orange in half, and set the halves on a deck railing or flat feeder, or tie them on a tree branch. Orioles also eat lots of nectar, and are happy to take sugar water as a substitute!
What to Report to Journey North
2. Report the FIRST Oriole you see this spring.
3. Report "leaf-out" of your deciduous trees.
Here's why: For many songbird species, the timing of spring migration may be related to leaf-out. This is because when leaves emerge, so do lots of insects. Songbirds may fuel their migration by following the leaf-out, and eating the millions of insects available at that time. With your help, we'd like to test whether these spring events are inter-related.
Discussion of Challenge Question # 1
We asked you to "list oriole behaviors that differ between the tropics and their breeding grounds, and see if you can give some reasons why they would change how they act between the two places." Here are a few possibilities
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
1. Address an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 2
3. In the body of your message, answer the question
The next Oriole Migration Update will be posted on April 1, 1999.
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