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Where do Birds Go in the Winter?

Usually, in summers, you see a lot of birds chirping. A question would arise in your mind: where do birds go in the winter? Throughout the year many birds migrate from one place to another, searching for a favorable climate. 

Usually, birds migrate to warm areas in winters. Hence, we see only a few of them around us in winter. Some birds may take a month to reach their destination. They keep flying continuously over oceans, deserts, and cities. About 75% of the whole world’s bird population migrate, while the remaining 25% like to stay wherever they are. This article will read more about where birds go in the winter. 

What Is Animal Migration?

What Is Animal Migration?

Animal migration is the shifting of animals to areas with a suitable climate for survival. Usually, all types and species of animals migrate. Migration is a common behavior among all major animals, including birds, crustaceans, fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. 

Animals need to migrate from one place to another to find more suitable conditions required for their reproductive needs, better living conditions, and search for food. Some animals also like to travel a short distance for better food and breeding environments. 

Some animals that migrate are Sandhill Crane, Wildebeest, and Canada Goose. However, migration can also occuur due to habitat destruction, disease, or overexploitation. 

Why Do Birds Migrate?

Why Do Birds Migrate?

Birds leave a place and migrate to another due to many reasons. One of the reasons is the scarcity of food. When birds find that the area in which they currently live has very few food supplies, they prefer to leave that area and migrate to another one with an adequate food supply. 

In winters, you would find that the number of insects and other food drops. Therefore,  birds migrate searching for food. Usually, birds migrate to avoid cold temperatures, but some birds prefer to live in a low-temperature area until the weather warms up and food is again available. Birds that do this include hummingbirds

Behavior Of Migrating Birds

Migrating birds adopt certain behaviors that help them reach their destination quickly. These behaviors also help them in many other ways. One of the behaviors includes flying at higher heights. Winds at higher altitudes are helpful in automatically pushing the birds along their way. 

Behavior Of Migrating Birds

Also, the cool winds at high altitudes help them to avoid overheating. But flying at extremely high altitudes is also dangerous because air is dry, and birds lose more water from their body at high altitudes. Air also becomes less dense, due to which birds are required to flap their wings more quickly to keep flying.  

Some of the birds adapt the behavior of completing their journey at night. This decreases the risk of getting spotted by predatory birds.

Where Do Birds Go In The Winter?

Where Do Birds Go In The Winter?

Birds have a naturally occurring behavior of migrating from the north to the south every winter. Some birds get into their nests to keep themselves warm; their thick feathers help them. They stay inside and slow down their metabolism to save energy. 

During winter, a birdhouse is more than a heaven for the birds because it is one of the safest shelters they can stay in. In addition, it acts as a warm place for them to be safe from chilling weather. Hence, they prefer to stay inside because they may even freeze to death outside. 

Migrating Bird Routes

Migrating Birds use obvious landmarks like rivers or coastlines to trace their path. Many migratory birds manage to retain the same path they used to reach their destination. At the same time, some birds come back through/via  another path forming a circular path during the whole journey. A name used for this kind of migration is loop migration. 

Loop migration helps the birds know about more areas, such as how the weather is there and how adequate the food supplies are. Sand Martins fly above Africa over the western Mediterranean, reaching the west of the Alps. Now, when they return, they do not follow the same path. Instead, they come back by the eastern Mediterranean, going through the east of the Alps. 

Migrating Bird Routes

Migration routes cover every single point on the map. When you see Asian routes, many northern species tend to spend their winter in the southeast area. America has no differentiating factor like a desert or sea to separate south to north. This makes it very easy for birds to migrate because they can get enough food during their journey. 

Not every bird migrates to the south during winter. some bird species breed in the southern hemisphere towards the north. There is one example of the carmine bee-eater. It leaves South Africa and goes to the east side. 

Which Birds Migrate? Do All Birds Migrate?

Only birds which feel the need to migrate travel such long distances. If they are not getting enough food supply and are not provided with good environmental conditions, they tend to go to another place where their needs are met. Birds that need some other conditions for mating need to migrate. Hence, you can say that breeding is one of the main factors that result in birds’ migration. 

However, all birds don’t feel the necessity of migration. Some birds have found alternatives to migration. They stay inside their nests and stay warm. For example, the northern cardinal is a bird that prefers living in the same environment for the whole year. This kind of bird saves energy to keep itself warm. 

They protect themselves from predators and raise their chicks during harsh winters. Some non-migrating birds include Anna’s hummingbirds, black-capped chickadees, northern mockingbirds, common ravens, great horned owls, wild turkeys, and many others. 

How Do Migratory Birds Find Their Way?

How Do Migratory Birds Find Their Way?

It is a question that feels problematic to many scientists and researchers. Birds use numerous strategies to find their way. For example, some birds use the Sun as a tool that tells them that they are going the correct way because birds can judge their way by noticing the position of the Sun. These birds can also see the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which help them navigate. 

Nocturnal birds are so smart that they can determine the right way by just looking at the stars.  A study was conducted to prove this fact in which a planetarium was set up, and birds were made to fly in it, and it was found that the direction of flying could be easily manipulated using stars. As the position of stars changed, birds also followed the stars and changed their direction of flight. 


Birds are lovable creatures, and we must help them during this intense journey. We can’t do a lot, but we at least can put up a birdhouse which could be the source of shelter for many migrating birds. This interesting migration process is very vast when it comes to understanding the process in detail. 

Many factors affect the migration of birds. We need to take preventive measures to stop global warming. It poses a great threat to migration patterns and overall birdlife. 

Therefore, we should pledge to help the migrating birds by setting up a bird feeder that birds can use to fill their bellies and gain the power to complete their journey. We hope the above article helped you learn about where birds go in winter.