Science

Georgians Can Now Check The Daily Bird Forecast

A juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird is shown hovering.
A juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird is shown hovering.
Credit Pslawinski
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At the height of fall migration in Georgia, tens of millions of birds fly over the state on some nights on their way south for the winter.

Now, Georgians can get updates on when the biggest flocks are coming, with graphics that show the expected number of birds migrating over Atlanta, Augusta and Columbus a few days out.

“Some nights, depending on the direction of the winds and if there’s rain, it could be just a few thousand,” said Adam Betuel, director of conservation at Georgia Audubon. “On some of the big nights, which we’ve had recently, it’s north of 30 million birds just over the state of Georgia.”

Bird migration forecast for Georgia on Sept. 23, 2021. (Credit: GA Audubon)

Georgia Audubon is working with a researcher who uses weather radar to forecast bird migration.

It’s a tool that’s been used in the past to study bird migration patterns and numbers. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology maintains a nationwide migration forecast map called BirdCast. Kyle Horton, a professor at Colorado State University, is working with Georgia Audubon on the local alerts.

Read More: Sometimes The Weather On The Radar Is Actually Birds

The peak of fall migration in Georgia is happening now, typically starting around Sept. 23 and continuing through Oct. 17, Betuel said.

“Half of all the fall migrants are going to fly over Georgia during those three weeks, give or take,” he said.

Betuel said he hopes people use the information and turn off lights that they don’t need to help protect migrating birds that can get confused by outdoor lighting at night, and by glass during the day.

Tennessee Warbler with an injured beak. (Credit: GA Audubon)

“The best estimates we have state that 365 million to 1 billion birds a year die from running into buildings in the United States,” Betuel said.

He said using motion sensor lights, targeting light where it’s needed rather than shining it up into the sky, and using warmer LEDs instead of bright white ones can all help.

Read More: Atlanta Project Aims To Prevent Bird-Building Collisions

“We’re not advocating for, you know, all of Georgia and metro Atlanta to go pitch black. But we think there is a reasonable compromise that’s good for wildlife. It’s good for human health as well,” he said.

Georgia Audubon’s bird forecasts are available via their website and on their social media accounts.

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