For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-birdcast 😊
(Editor’s note: This is the first post from our new nature correspondent, Horace the Otter, the River Houses mascot. Watch for more from Horace in the weeks to come.) 😊
Spring bird migration is underway across much of the United States, and to give your homeschoolers a window into what’s happening why not spend a few minutes this week exploring the wonderful birdcast.info website sponsored by Cornell University.
Birdcast.info is a daily “weather” forecast, and the weather it predicts is the nightly level of bird migration across the United States. (Did you know that most birds migrate at night? It’s true!) The earliest migrating species start moving each year as far back as February, with others joining in during March and April, and the greatest numbers moving north in May.
The birdcast.info website will show you the level of migration that’s expected across the country on any given night. The forecast for tomorrow night (Saturday night and Sunday morning), for example, shows moderate movement in the southeast and up the east coast, as well as along the south Pacific coast. Rain along the lower Mississippi will be blocking seasonal movements there.
As the spring proceeds you’ll see the level of migration intensify, with heavy movements up the Mississippi and across the Great Plains, and along the east and west coasts, all subject to local variation caused by daily weather conditions that can “bottle up” migrants for short periods.
In addition to its daily forecast maps, birdcast.info also produces live nightly migration images based on nationwide radar observations that see bird movements directly. As sunset moves from east to west across the country, the sky “lights up” with radar echoes of migrating birds — it’s quite dramatic.
Go to the live migration maps page to see these images in animated form.
Birdcast.info will help you and your students connect what you see in your local neighborhood with the grand pattern of migration that is taking place across the whole continent.
What natural observations have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: Our recommended homeschool 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’s a good fit for your family and take it with you on all your outings, whether far afield or just out to the backyard. 🦉
❡ Homeschool birds: We think bird study is one of the best subjects you can take up in a homeschool environment. It’s suitable for all ages, it can be made as elementary or as advanced as you wish, and birds can be found just about anywhere at any season of the year. Why not track your own homeschool bird observations on the free eBird website, also sponsored by Cornell University. It’s a great way to learn more about what’s in your local area and about how bird populations change from season to season. 🐦