May is a big month for migratory birds in the Northland

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World Migratory Bird Day is coming up on Saturday. And it’s good timing, since May and June are peak months for migrating birds in the Northland.

Steve Kolbe, avian ecologist with UMD’s NRRI, met us at Hawk Ridge on Thursday.

“The majority of birds, especially waterfowl, and almost all songbirds, migrate almost exclusively at night. Really during spring and fall migration, it doesn’t matter whether it’s daytime, nighttime, there are likely some birds or very many birds in some cases overhead. You know, 24 hours a day, which is pretty amazing,” he said.

Wednesday night was good weather for migration, so based on radar, there were millions of birds in the air.

“There are certain days when the weather is perfect for migration. So in the spring it’s, you know, it’s the days that we like too. It’s the warm conditions, nice blue skies or at night, calm winds, that sort of stuff. And so we did have a few days like that sort of in the middle of April that were really great and a lot of birds took advantage of that and came up here,” he said.

Then we had the snow and ice storm, and birds actually went back south for awhile, according to Kolbe.

The research they do at NRRI includes migration studies. Kolbe told us generally birds are amazing indicators of what’s happening in the environment. “Bird migration connects us to this hemisphere in a way that very little else does.”

Kolbe added that along with Hawk Ridge, Park Point and Wisconsin Point can be good places to see birds.