Spring migration is one of the most exciting times of year for bird photography. Migration is a remarkable natural phenomena, and I was lucky enough to grow up near Point Pelee National Park, a world-famous migration hotspot. Seeing the daily arrival of birds in their most vibrant plumages is what got me hooked on birds and bird photography. In this column, I’m going to share some of the fundamentals of migration and tips for photographing migrating birds.
Why birds migrate
Birds migrate for two key reasons: to find food and nesting locations. This is why Canada is a major destination for southern birds migrating here to nest each year. Our distinct seasonal cycles and relatively short “growing season” during spring and summer result in an intense period of high productivity. Insect hatches occur explosively, plants grow quickly to seed and prey species, such as small rodents, produce many offspring. This seasonal abundance of food, coupled with Canada’s expansive natural ecosystems, makes it well worth flying here to stake out a nesting territory and raise a brood of chicks in time to fly back south when food sources decrease in autumn.