Wintering Grounds of Backyard Birds
They arrive in spring and fill our yards with color and song. But, where do they spend their winters? Here is a look at several of our most popular summer visitors. Links lead to Cornell's All About Birds page for each species.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate south until they reach the Gulf Coast. There, they will spend several days putting on additional fat before making a non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. This flight lasts 18 to 22 hours. Ruby-throated hummingbirds land in Mexico and disperse across Central America. A small number of birds, typically the young of the year, will spend their winter along the extreme southern tip of Florida.
Baltimore Orioles will often leave our area shortly after their nesting season is over, traveling east into the mountains to feed on insects that emerge in massive numbers at that time. Orioles then head south, with some birds wintering in Florida and the Caribbean islands and others moving to Central America and the northern parts of South America.
House Wrens can be found throughout much of the United States. These diminutive birds spend their winters in the southern U.S. and down into Mexico, making most of their migration over land routes.
Purple Martins start to congregate in massive migratory flocks during the month of August. These flocks are large enough that they can be tracked by radar as they make their journey south. Most of these birds end up in Brazil, where communal roosts that can contain hundreds of thousands of Martins may form.