This installment of our series is about our migratory species’ coming home to Alberta – some of which have already made their way here! The sound of Canada geese honking has been resonating in the sky for a couple of weeks now (depending on where you live). Geese and other waterfowl try to time their return for when water bodies start becoming ice-free.
While many migratory birds have returned to southern Alberta, those that are headed further north are still enroute. Song birds that breed in the boreal forest have to fly thousands of kilometres to reach their destination. Summers are short, especially in northern Alberta, so when birds return they immediately get busy with mating and nest building.
Look for hawks and falcons perched along roadsides, searching for prey. Receding snow makes it easier to find small mammals. Listen for bird calls, not only are migratory songbirds returning but year round residents are calling more, getting ready for the breeding season. Birds will be trying to attract mates or defend territories.
Our migratory bats are also on their way. Relatively warm temperatures are required to provide them with insects and bugs. So once you start noticing more insects, you can be assured that the bats have returned. They are the primary consumers of nocturnal insects (including mosquitoes) and therefore occupy an important ecological niche.
Spring is the start of new beginnings and Alberta’s air, land and water will be full of activity – you don’t need to look too far to welcome back to our Merry Migrators!