The Great Fall Migration

We don’t only see changing fall colours in trees. They’re also in the feathers of some birds. To prepare for their fall migration journey, birds molt at the end of summer to get into top flying condition.

Birds shed and replace old, worn feathers. Some birds change appearance during this transition, becoming less colourful and looking like different birds entirely compared with their bright breeding plumage.

Scarlet Tanager: Breeding          Non-breeding

Indigo Bunting: Breeding           Non-breeding

Fall is a busy time for birdwatching. While you won’t hear the distinctive mating songs, it’s a great time to practice your identification skills or simply see the diversity and number of birds. Over 200 birds pass through the Credit River Watershed, often following the path of the Credit River to the Lake Ontario shoreline. A forest or shoreline can transform overnight as flocks of birds arrive under darkness from August to October.

Unfortunately, the U.S. and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion, or more than one in four birds in the past 50 years. Without long term monitoring information, this important global trend would go unnoticed. Our monitoring program has picked up on these trends in our own watershed for common species such as Ovenbird, Eastern Wood Pewee and Wood Thrush.

Protecting natural features – those important forests, wetlands and grasslands – give birds space to live and places to stop for refuelling during migration. You can provide shelter and food sources on your own property with native plants.

See the incredible fall migration by visiting a few hot spots in the watershed: Forks of the Credit in Caledon, Rattray Marsh on the shores of Lake Ontario in Mississauga or even your own yard!

How many birds can you spot? Use our Fall Bird Spotter Guide and share your sightings with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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