Sep 28, 2023 - News

Birds to see during peak migration in Central Texas

A Baltimore Oriole, which will migrate through Texas on its way to Central America, the Caribbean and other warm climates. Photo: Bernard P. Friel/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of birds are traveling through Central Texas as they head south to their winter homes.

Why it matters: Texas sits in the Central Flyway, a superhighway for migratory birds, and now's your chance to catch a glimpse of species that are coming from as far north as Canada and the Arctic.

Driving the news: The birds migrate Aug. 15 through Nov. 30, with peak migration happening now until Oct. 29.

  • They'll move through the sky while you're sleeping, using the moon and the stars to help them navigate.
  • During the day, migratory birds conserve their energy and search for food and water.

What they're saying: Nicole Netherton, executive director of Travis Audubon, encourages Texans to turn out their lights in the evenings, especially during peak migration.

  • The light "can cause them to be disoriented," Netherton tells Axios. "They get caught up in lights and get exhausted. It also draws them into urban areas with light pollution, where they are much more likely to encounter glass."

Here are some migrating birds to look out for, according to Netherton:

A ruby-throated hummingbird. Photo: Photo Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
A Nashville Warbler. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Of note: Other birds, such as the orange-crowned warbler, will spend the winter in Central Texas.

An orange-crowned Warbler foraging for berries. Photo: Jon G. Fuller / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Pro tip: You're most likely to see these birds around sunrise and sunset, when they're most active, according to Netherton.

  • Backyard feeders can be used to bring birds closer to your home, but only if they're regularly cleaned to avoid spreading disease.
  • "Putting out fresh water is a great way to draw wildlife to your yard," Netherton said, adding that a shallow dish, no more than two inches deep should do the trick. "Birds coming through are looking for water."

What to watch: You can receive local bird migration alerts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to know when birds are migrating in high densities.

  • Tonight and tomorrow's bird forecast for Austin is considered "low," or up to 14,000 birds per kilometer per night.

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