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More than 16 million birds migrate over Michigan

A screenshot of bird migration on Monday night using Birdcast.
A screenshot of bird migration on Monday night using Birdcast.

Experts say we’re past the halfway point of the fall migration, but heat events are impacting how birds move through the U.S.

Andrew Farnsworth is a migration scientist at Cornell University, which helped make Birdcast. He said Michigan is approaching this year’s peak migration.

During the southern migration, he said bird watchers are able to see some unique species that they wouldn’t see otherwise.

"What we’re seeing and what we’re experiencing and obviously what the birds are doing represent this incredible element of the planet, connecting different and really disparate parts of the globe in some cases," Farnsworth said.

But droughts caused by the heat are impacting how birds move across the U.S., he said.

“No question birds respond to that. Sometimes, birds may leave a little bit earlier than typical, sort of on a species level. Sometimes birds may wander quite a lot more," Farnsworth said. "Birds may not breed because they might not be able to produce offspring.”

People can plant native vegetation, put bird protectors on reflective windows, and shut lights off at night so birds can migrate safely and have safe places to take a break, he said.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.