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It’s in your nature: Where do they go?

Over 75% of North America’s birds migrate; moving from their breeding territories southward to their historic wintering areas. Most of the birds that you have become familiar with this spring and summer have already left or are leaving this area as you read this. Most of them relied on insects or other invertebrates on which to feed, and the cold weather spells the end of the insects’ life cycles.

Some of our favorites, like the American robin, have long left our area, but I know that a few hardy ones can be found nearly every winter feeding in some of the game commission food plots along Beltzville Dam. Those robins most likely ventured south from their New England nesting areas and find our winters here a bit less severe.

With most of the songbirds moving south, the majority of our accipiters (bird-eating hawks), as well as the buteos, are finding less hospitable areas to seek out their winter food.

Some birds migrate only a few hundred miles, while an arctic tern migrates over 20,000 miles each year. Their annual migrations are perilous, whether it is a hummingbird or a wood thrush. But that journey must occur to ensure the species survival.

As a learning exercise, I have created two matching quizzes to see if you know “where they go.” Select the wintering area that each of our migrants would use. I’ll list the answers at the conclusion of the column. Do your best and no cheating …

No matter your results, take advantage of what our area offers us, get out there, relax, learn, and enjoy, enjoy.

Quiz one

1. Barn swallows

2. Tree swallows

3. Palm warblers

4. Baltimore orioles

5. Osprey

6. Turkey vultures

A. South Atlantic coastal areas

B. Florida

C. Peru

D. Central America/Mexico

E. Southeastern Pennsylvania counties

F. Argentina

Quiz two

1. Eastern Phoebes

2. Broad-winged hawks

3. Bobolinks

4. Blue/gray gnatcatchers

5. Ruby-throated hummingbird

6. Scarlet tanagers

A. Argentina

B. Amazon rainforests

C. Central America

D. Southern U.S.

E. Peru/Bolivia

F. Florida


Quiz one: Barn swallow fly to Argentina, tree swallows winter along the Atlantic Seaboard, Palm warblers find Florida their winter homes, Baltimore Orioles head to Central America, ospreys fly well into South America such as Peru, While the turkey vultures feeding here may only travel to Bucks or Southern Lehigh counties.

Quiz two: Eastern Phoebes head to the Southern U.S., broad-winged hawks find Peru and surrounding areas their winter home, bobolinks travel all the way to Argentina, the gnatcatchers remain in Florida, our hummingbirds overwinter usually in Central America, and the scarlet tanagers head to the forested Amazon.

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: True or False - _____ No eastern bluebirds remain in the Times News region in the winter months.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: It may surprise you that more than 50 species of birds are flightless. However, as you may suspect, a higher percentage of flightless birds compared to birds capable of flying have become extinct.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.

Insect-eating birds, like this alder flycatcher resting on a fence in Penn Forest Township, migrate knowing their flying insect food will soon be gone. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Horned larks do breed here and many will remain, eating seeds over winter. Their numbers are bolstered by other larks escaping more extreme conditions farther north to join them in our snow-covered pastures.
Not all our birds migrate. Black-capped chickadees can remain here because they can adapt from an insect diet in much of the year to seed eaters in winters.
Some red-bellied woodpeckers leave our region to venture a bit farther south, but those that find your feeders and suet can withstand winter's harshness with adequate food.