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Weather and migrating birds


Staff writers

May 8, 2012 — We've certainly seen a whirlwind of different weather conditions this spring. From 20C days in March to snow in May, people across Canada have seen a bit of everything. But how does that affect migratory birds?

Hummingbirds are making an early appearance in some parts of the country
Hummingbirds are making an early appearance in some parts of the country

Dwayne Biggar, a bird specialist in Edgetts Landing, New Brunswick says that a lot of birds are coming back from migration early -- especially hummingbirds.

"If some of the hummingbirds come back too early and the temperatures dip overnight, some of the birds will go into a torpid state," he says. "Their metabolism goes down and their heart rate and sometimes if it gets too cold they don't come out of it in the morning."

And hummingbirds aren't the only birds that are coming back early. "Blackbirds were probably two or three weeks earlier than normal," he says.

Bird feeders can be a lifesaver in a spring of fluctuating temperatures
Bird feeders can be a lifesaver in a spring of fluctuating temperatures

With a spring that seems to be a wild rollercoaster, Biggar says that keeping a bird feeder can save birds' lives. "If we get one of those late season snowstorms, bird feeders can be a real asset to the early migrants."

When it comes to hummingbirds, Biggar suggests making a stronger recipe. "The normal recipe is 4 parts sugar to one part water. It's a little strong, so they don't have to feed as often and it gives them a little boost to make it through the night," he says. "And it's good to make sure they are full and ready to go in the morning when they do wake up."

But when it gets hotter, Biggar says you should dilute the recipe down so it's one part sugar to one part water, because the birds will need the extra hydration. 

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