Birds...Essay post


Why and When Do Birds Migrate

A Bird is defined as: any warm-blooded vertebrate of the class Aves, having a body covered with feathers, forelimbs modified into wings, scaly legs, a beak, and no teeth, and bearing young in a hard-shelled egg.

Some children have not even the slightest interest in birds. Save for the fact that our *excuse the term* bird-crazed Grandmother has a bird game that includes M&M’s, we would fall into that category.  But, birds are special creatures, and really do have some interesting facts about them.

There are about 300 species of birds in Wisconsin. About 2/3 of them migrate south, to South or Central America, and the warmer states.

Why do birds migrate? They migrate for food, water, and shelter to nest and breed. Their habitat is provided in the spring and summer. But when the seasons change all of those essential things are taken away, and the birds have to find new homes. When that happens, most of the Wisconsin birds migrate. Following is a few of the birds:

The Baltimore Orioles, have orange and black plumage, and are in the same family as blackbirds. They are about 7 - 8 1/2 inches long, with a wingspan of 11 1/4 - 12 1/4 inches. They weigh about 1 - 1 3/4 ounces. Did you know that an Oriole takes 2 – 3 weeks to get ready before they can migrate? You might ask what they do during those few weeks. Well, during that time the orioles are “shedding” their old feathers, growing new ones, eating (A LOT) and storing fat for the long journey ahead. On their journey, the Baltimore Orioles fly about 150 miles each night, and reach their destination after about 2 – 3 weeks of flying. I picked up an interesting fact that Orioles fly by night instead of in the day time, because their predator the hawk, can’t fly by night, and it’s “smoother” flying without all the winds. After reaching their destination, the Orioles have time to “recover from their long flight” on the warm beaches of…actually, in the forests in the American Tropics.

Next, we will talk about the American Robin.

The American Robin is located in the central area of the U.S. and is Wisconsin’s state bird. The robin has a reddish orange breast, with a gray body, and a blackish gray head. This worm-eating bird migrates to Texas or Florida, but some will fly to Vancouver Island, Guatemala, Baja California, or Southern Mexico. Robins prepare for flight the same as the Orioles by growing new feathers, storing up fat, and eating lots of food. The robin flies in “scattered flocks” at about 36 miles per hour. They travel about 100 – 200 miles a day, and at that speed arrive at their winter home in about 2-3 weeks.

When do these feathered herbivores migrate? In temperate zones, birds migrate in response to the seasons. Food is generally more abundant in the wet and warm times of year, the spring and summer, and birds travel north to feed. In the winter, though, northern climates are food-poor, so the birds have to go south to find food. If all the migrating birds stayed either in the north or south for too long, they would run out of food. So the reason that birds migrate is because there wouldn’t be enough food etc. if they stayed the winter.

In honor of our dear “bird-crazed Grandmother” I will conclude this somewhat lengthy report. I hope you enjoyed learning about our feathered friends as much as I.

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