Why Do Birds Migrate in Fall?

Whether a bird sticks around in the winter depends on their diet. Find out why birds migrate and why some birds don’t migrate.

Q: Why don’t all birds migrate in fall? Megan Lemieux Ashtabula, Ohio

A: Birds are tougher than they look. Many can survive Ohio’s winter temperatures and stay put if they are able to find food. Songbirds that migrate south tend to feed mainly on insects, which are scarce commodities in typical Midwestern winters. The birds that keep us company are the ones that survive on seeds, like cardinals and sparrows, and others like chickadees and woodpeckers that hunt for insect eggs or hibernating insects in bark. Adaptable omnivores such as crows and gulls, which eat just about anything, also stick around. —Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman. Kenn and Kimberly co-authored the Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of New England

Birds that don’t migrate

Ed’s Note: Many birds, like American goldfinches and yellow-rumped warblers, stick around parts of the U.S. all winter. They’re just more difficult to spot because they molt into more subdued tones for the cold months, only sporting dull patches of yellow.

Study up on this checklist to add more birds to your back yard in the fall. Keep them coming back with one of these 14 easy bird feeders.

Originally Published in Birds & Blooms