The following was originally posted in the April 2012 Nature Notes, Heartland Outdoor School’s newsletter:

As spring creeps northward, it seems to be traveling on the wingtips of migratory birds. The majority of North American bird species migrate. Some Ohio species may not travel much further south than Kentucky while others may go all the way to South America! Many people believe these migrations are to escape the cold, but it is actually due to food availability. As the temperature drops, food becomes scarce and the birds must travel to areas with more food.

In the spring, flowers bloom, animals come out of hibernation and bugs emerge. All this activity transforms the north into an all-you-can-eat buffet for birds. Additionally, trees and bushes grow new leaves on their branches, which create prime nesting real estate. All types of migratory birds, from hummingbirds to raptors (hawks and eagles), travel north to take advantage of these resources. Some of these birds will be spending the summer with us here in Ohio. Others will just be passing through as they travel further north to Canada. As you go out this spring, keep an eye out for some of these marvelous migrants!