When the calendar flips to September there are many cues that tell us summer is winding down. Sending kids back to school, a tinge of color on trees, and the sight of migrating birds are just a few signs of changing seasons.
The cooler nights, shorter days, and longer nights of late summer are also a cue for wild creatures to begin preparing for fall and winter. Like our Horicon Bank goose, many species of birds are gearing up or already started on migration.
Traditionally, we think of migration as a north-south journey. For example we know Horicon Marsh is a key stop over for the Mississippi Valley population of Canada Geese as they move between Hudson Bay and southern Illinois. However, there are many complexities and nuances of migration which have emerged over time thanks to bird banding, radio tagging, and GPS tracking.
For example, we have observed that spring migrations tend to occur in a more compressed time frame as birds press against melting snowlines to reach nesting areas and begin the circle of life anew. In autumn, migrations can be much more casual affairs with long rests, broken only by periodic storms or the depletion of local food.
It’s also easy to underestimate the mobility of some birds, as even juveniles can hop between states in almost any direction as they seek food and habitat. Some banding data suggests that Wisconsin mallards may move to the Dakotas in late summer in search of more wetlands and small grains in the fields. Then, they may return to their Wisconsin birth sites before heading south to Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana for winter. Other species have similarly complicated and interesting, migration routes and stories… like Tundra swans moving from Alaska to North Carolina, or monarch butterflies’ multi-generational migration between Canada and Mexico each year.
As September unfolds it’s a good time for all of us to enjoy some great summer days and also prepare for the changing seasons ahead. That means maintaining our homes and vehicles for the weather to come, and perhaps even planning for our own migration back to college or to warmer destinations.
Horicon Bank is the Natural Choice to help individuals and families enjoy nature in Wisconsin and beyond with great internet and mobile banking services. Horicon Bank is available to serve you anywhere on the map. Migrate on in to set up your new account or apply for a loan today!