Aerial view of American flamingos flying over Los Roques Archipelago National Park, Venezuela
© Cristian Lourenco/Getty Image
Birds of a feather
Changes in daylight hours and how much food is available can mean the start of seasonal migrations for many bird species. These American flamingos, pictured over the Caribbean Sea off Venezuela, will migrate relatively short distances to ensure they have enough food over the winter. Found mainly in the Caribbean, they live as far north as southern Florida, USA – one of hundreds of bird species that migrate along north-south routes in the Americas, from Alaska and Canada to Argentina and Chile.
Most of these migratory birds use established flight paths called flyways to travel between their breeding grounds and overwintering areas. These tend to avoid obstacles such as mountains and oceans, following routes along coasts and valleys. Birds migrating through North America follow four main flyways, the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific. They need food and shelter at stopover points, so a lot of conservation work goes on to preserve habitats in these corridors, which are crucial for the birds' survival.
Today, 10 October, is World Migratory Bird Day in Mexico, Central and South America – although it is celebrated elsewhere on 2 May. Wherever you live, every day is a good day to pick up some binoculars and watch nature’s flypast outside your window.