New Online Atlas of Bird Migration

Remarkable new Audubon Society online tracker shows bird migrations across the Americas.


Migrating birds

A bay-breasted warbler weighs about the same as four pennies, but twice a year makes an extraordinary journey. The tiny songbird flies nearly 4,000 miles (6,437 km) between Canada’s spruce forests and its wintering grounds in northern South America.


“Migratory birds are these little globetrotters,” said Jill Deppe, the senior director of the migratory bird initiative at the National Audubon Society.


The bird migration atlas, published on Thursday, draws from an unprecedented number of scientific and community data sources to illustrate the routes of about 450 bird species in the Americas, including the warblers.


The Bird Migration Explorer mapping tool is available free to the public and, whilst it's still a work in progress, is a brilliant tool for those interested in understanding more about where our feathered friends travel to and from.


For the first time, the site brings together online data from hundreds of scientific studies that use GPS tags to track bird movements, as well as more than 100 years of bird-banding data collected by USGS, community science observations entered into Cornell’s eBird platform, genomic analysis of feathers to pinpoint bird origins, and other data.


The site allows a user to enter a species - for instance, osprey - and watch movements over the course of a year. For example, data from 378 tracked ospreys show up as yellow dots that move between coastal North America and South America as a calendar bar scrolls through the months of the year.


As new tracking data becomes available, the site will continue to expand. Melanie Smith, program director for the site, said the next phase of expansion will add more data about seabirds.


Bird Migration Explorer. Enjoy!


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