Boreal birds. Where do they go when they migrate?
They go to a large forest at the top of North America, from interior Alaska all the way across the vast lands of Canada. They are off to breed and pass through our area in the blink of an eye.
Each day for less than two weeks, birders all across the area are in search of the boreal forest birds. The boreal forest represents one-quarter of the world’s remaining untouched forests with about 80% free of industrial development. The forest has lots of lakes and 25% of the world’s wetlands which are home to 80% of the waterfowl species in the US and Canada. The map below shows the forest and the routes the birds travel. The website of the map used with permission for educational and media use, has great information.
The forests are home to 325 different bird species which is almost half of the species commonly found in the U.S. and Canada.
The bird species birders are looking for right now is the colorful warblers. One of the early warblers I saw is 98% reliant on these forests – the Palm Warbler.
These little warblers are some of the hardest songbirds to photograph. They are small and always moving. Each species has a particular place on the trees to feed, some at the top, some in the middle and some near the lower canopy.
“Some species feed at low and mid levels (Myrtle Warbler), some on the trunk and branches (Black-and-white Warbler), some feed at mid levels near the outside (Black-throated Green Warbler), some at mid level on the inside (Blackburnian Warbler), and others feeding at the uppermost portion of the tree (Cape May and Cerulean Warbler).” Birds Unlimited
They also prefer brushy areas making seeing the whole bird at one time difficult as they skulk through underbrush. Even though the boreal forest is mostly intact, it is not without mentioning its importance. A few of the birds that live in this forest habitat are in serious decline, so protecting the forest is an important endeavor.
Many people think these are feeder or backyard birds, but they don’t generally visit garden feeders in spring. They will eat seed and berries come fall migration though, and may eat suet in spring if offered if insect populations are not plentiful.
I did have a pine warbler visit my flowering pear for insects last year. Warblers are fond of poison ivy too and a huge one grows on my neighbors property. The warblers move about from branch to branch eating many insects.
If you want warblers to visit, your garden must be one they find attractive. If you want warblers on your property, plant willow, oak, cypress, sycamore, pine and even magnolia. They are fond of flowering cherry and crabapple as well.
Plants for fall migration include, honeysuckle, sumac, blackberries, dogwoods, wild grapes, junipers, mulberries and bayberry.
The warblers are not a common backyard visitor but may show up during the migration periods if you have some of their favorite bug-filled plants in the garden.
Happy May gardening. If you have a large property, add a few plants for those colorful warblers.