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Nearly two billion birds will be migrating through Texas this fall and we’re just entering the peak of their migration.
Birds have just completed nesting and raising their young up north and are making their way south for the winter where temperatures are less extreme and food is plentiful. Fall migration spans a longer amount of time than spring migration, lasting from August 15 – November 30.
pictured: Belted Kingfisher, Photo by Lynne Hughes
Many of the birds migrating through Galveston this fall may take a direct flight to Central and South America and bypass Galveston completely, like many of the colorful warblers, or make an emergency landing in Galveston to escape storms that make flying difficult and dangerous.
Other birds may make planned layovers in Galveston for a few days or few weeks to recharge and refuel before the next leg of their journey, like many shorebirds such as the Semipalmated Sandpiper. And some birds will become winter Texans and stay with us until next spring, like the Piping Plover.
Pictured: Piping Plover, Photo by Kristen Vale
Whether Galveston is a temporary stop or destination for birds, we can all take one simple step to help birds along their journey – turn out your lights at night.
The majority of birds migrate at night. It’s often safer for the birds because there are fewer predators out and because the stars help guide them on their journey.
Unfortunately, bright lights of commercial and residential buildings can attract and disorient birds. This brings birds closer to buildings that have highly reflective and clear glass that birds cannot see, greatly increasing the risk of colliding into the windows and leaving birds vulnerable to threats on the ground, such as free-roaming cats.
Up to 1 billion birds die each year from collisions with buildings and structures in the U.S. alone. Bird populations are already declining rapidly, with 1 out of every 4 birds in the U.S. lost since 1970.
Pictured: Osprey, Photo by Joe Smith
Where the Texas Coast begins.
by Visit Galveston
by Mary Beth Bassett