The spring bird migration season is underway in much of North America, and this is a good time to introduce your homeschool students to the patterns of bird migration and behavior that can be seen in your backyard and across the continent. One resource you should bookmark for your students to explore this migration season is the BirdCast website sponsored by Cornell University:
BirdCast is like a weather forecasting site, except the weather being reported is the daily (and nightly) migration of North American birds. (Did you know most small birds migrate at night?) The BirdCast website offers daily forecasts of bird migration, along with scientific discussions (ideal for high-school age students) about the influence of winds and weather on migration, the seasonal patterns exhibited by different species, and more:
Since 2012, the BirdCast team has been working toward automatically predicting and analyzing bird migration across the continental US. Our original, lofty goal was to provide these sorts of predictions and analyses for radar, eBird, and acoustic data, fully integrated, for the most complete representation of the largely unseen spectacle of billions of nocturnally migrating birds moving through the United States. Well, today [27 March 2018], the team made a great leap forward — we unveil automated forecast maps and live migration maps, taking advantage of more than two decades worth of radar data to produce these exciting new products. Welcome to the future of migration monitoring, please explore the new visuals and tune in frequently for discussion about movements! (birdcast.info)
BirdCast’s daily maps outline where migration is going to be heaviest, and so where you are more likely to see new spring arrivals on any given day.
You can study the forecast maps as an educational tool, and also use them to support your own homeschool field trips. (“This weekend looks especially good for migrants — let’s take a trip to the local lake tomorrow and see if we can find any new arrivals.”) Bookmark BirdCast.info and share it with your students as the migration season progresses.
What nature notes have you taken in your homeschool lately?
❡ Books in the running brooks: Our recommended River Houses reference library (riverhouses.org/books) includes an excellent bird guide that would serve your homeschool well. Many other similar guides are also available — find one that is a good fit for your family and take it with you on all your outings, whether far afield or just to the backyard.