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The Sky is Falling! Birds are Migrating

No, it’s not radioactive, but bird fallout can definitely be contagious if you catch it at the right time. Migrating birds take a shortcut directly over the Gulf of Mexico every April and May, leaving the Yucatan at sunset and arriving on the Gulf Coast 12 to 30 hours later. If you offer places to feed, drink, and rest, your own backyard wildscape can be an invaluable resource for migrating wildlife.

For small songbirds like orioles, buntings, or hummingbirds, a long flight across the ocean is a strenuous task. Couple it with April cold fronts and bad weather, and they struggle against the wind to reach shore, leading to spectacular “fallouts” when they reach the beach at places like Port Aransas and High Island on the gulf coast. Similar conditions can be observed as far inland as San Antonio after a spring rain – maybe even in your own backyard.

Enrich any landscape with a few simple techniques:

  • Bird-friendly landscaping offers seeds and berries for hungry flocks. Travelling birds will often seek the most common food sources, so there’s no need to use exotic plants; trees, native plants and even the weeds are often just as good.
  • Refresh the water in bird baths.
  • Keep pets inside or on a leash. Exhausted birds taking a rest can become easy prey, especially for cats.

On rainy spring mornings, you’ll hear the busy twittering of colorful songbirds echoing from the trees. After just a few hours or days of replenishing their fuel stores, they resume the journey northward.

Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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