Migratory Birds on the Move in February

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

February in Ontario may seem like a quiet time for wildlife, but for bird enthusiasts, it's a month filled with the silent, yet powerful, movement of migratory birds. What may seem like a bleak month marks the beginning of many avian species embark on incredible journeys, crossing borders and landscapes to find more favorable conditions. In this blog post, we'll what's going on with migratory birds in February, highlighting the species, routes, and what to offer in your backyard.

Brown Creeper. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

The Winter Exodus:

  1. February marks the beginning of the northward migration for some species. The Winter exodus refers to the annual phenomenon where certain bird species undertake long-distance migrations from their breeding grounds to wintering grounds. This journey is driven by the need to find more favorable conditions for feeding and survival, especially in the face of harsh winter weather. The Winter exodus typically involves a south-to-north movement for many species in the Northern Hemisphere, while birds in the Southern Hemisphere may migrate in the opposite direction. This is triggered by changes in daylight hours, temperature, and instinctual timing.

  2. Highlighting Species in Motion:

  • Eastern Bluebirds: In some areas, Eastern Bluebirds may begin exploring potential nesting sites, signaling the start of their breeding activities.
  • Red-tailed Hawks: These raptors may be on the move in February, either migrating or engaging in territorial displays as they prepare for nesting.
  • Bald Eagles: February is a good time to spot Bald Eagles as they engage in courtship displays and prepare for the upcoming breeding season. Some may migrate to northern regions.
  • Mallards: Mallards, another common waterfowl species, may start their northward movements in February, seeking suitable breeding grounds.
  • Canada Geese: February marks the beginning of the northward migration for Canada Geese. Flocks of these iconic birds can be observed flying in V formations.
  1. Eastern Bluebird. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

  2. Where can you see migrating birds? The Great Lakes region serves as a significant migration corridor or flyway for a wide variety of bird species. It offers diverse habitats, including wetlands, forests, and shoreline areas, making it attractive for birds during migration. These habitats provide essential resources such as food, shelter, and suitable resting areas.Birds use this corridor during their seasonal migrations between breeding and wintering grounds.The Great Lakes provide excellent opportunities for birdwatchers to observe a wide array of bird species during migration.

As winter begins to loosen its grip on Ontario (yay!) , February becomes a critical month for birdwatchers. Whether you're a seasoned birder or a novice, the opportunities to witness these feathered travelers are plentiful. Bundle up and grab your binoculars, we're about to witness migratory birds make their remarkable journey northward.

Happy -almost- spring!!



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