Unusually warm autumn has no long-term impact on migratory birds

The mute swan (Cygnus olor.)
The mute swan (Cygnus olor.) Source: Kaido Kurel

This late autumn has been warmer than usual. There are now more short-distance migratory birds in Estonia, but the single mild fall will not have a lasting effect on number of migratory birds, Tarvo Valker, the birdwatcher, said.

Valker explained that as a result of November's warm weather there are now a larger-than-usual numbers of waterfowl and seed-eating perching birds migrating to Estonia for the winter, but a single warm autumn is not going to have a lasting effect on the migratory behavior of species.

Some waterfowl, such as the mute swan (Cygnus olor,) only leave when water freezes. "There are occasional winters without freezing temperatures, during which the seabeds remain open and waterfowl do not migrate," Valker said.

For birds spending the winter in Estonia, the mild late fall is an ideal time for foraging. When there is no snow on the ground and no frost, their natural mortality is lower. "What people who want to feed the birds should be thinking right now is that with the current warm weather, it is definitely worth delaying feeding the small birds until the first major frosts. Waterfowl, on the other hand, should not be fed at all," Valker said.

The number of birds that flock to settlements to spend the winter also depends on how cold or mild it is. "In the winter, many tits and corvids migrate from the countryside to urban areas, where food is abundantly available," he said.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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