As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, many birds begin to migrate south for the winter. But where exactly do they go? There are a few different patterns of migration that birds follow. Some birds, like geese and ducks, migrate in large flocks to specific locations where they will spend the winter. Other birds, like warblers and sparrows, travel solo or in small groups and can end up scattered across a wide area.
Birds also vary in how far they migrate. Some species only move a short distance from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds, while others may travel thousands of miles. In this piece, we are going to discover where in the world some of the UKs most well-loved birds migrate to.
What is bird migration?
Bird migration is the seasonal movement of birds from one place to another. Some birds migrate long distances, while others only move a short distance. Migration usually happens when the weather starts to get colder in the autumn and birds fly to a warmer place. In the spring, they fly back to their original home or breeding grounds.
Where do UK birds migrate to?
Dozens of migratory birds breed in the UK. But where do their travels take them? Some of the UK’s best-loved birds spend the winter at sea. Gannets, for example, mate and nest on rocky islands off the coast of Scotland, England, and Wales. But in winter, they can be found as far south as Senegal on the west coast of Africa. We’ve tracked the journeys of birds that breed in the UK to see where they go during the colder months.
Which birds migrate the furthest?
Migratory birds can travel thousands of miles before they settle down. For example, the red knot flies from the Arctic tundra to the southern tip of South America and back again each year. It makes one of the longest annual migrations of any bird, travelling up to 19,000 km each way!
But what do these mass-scale migrations look like on the map?
How to help migratory birds
- Migratory birds use up an awful lot of energy when they fly to a sunnier climate, and some will double their weight before they set off. Help them on their way by putting out quality wild bird seed.
- Put up birdhouses or build nesting boxes for birds. This gives them a place to rest and provides them with protection from the elements.
- Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden. These chemicals can harm and even kill birds.
- Provide clean, fresh water. If you have a bird bath, make sure to disinfect it regularly with animal-safe products.
- Educate yourself and others about the importance of migratory birds and their habitat.