OMSP serves as migratory flyway for birds

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015

By EMILY D. COOK / Community Columnist

Migration is the movement of animals from one location to another, in response to seasonal changes, changes in the food supply or changes in the best place to have offspring.

Oak Mountain State Park is a migratory flyway for many birds. Pictured are Monarch migrations in the United States. (Contributed)

Oak Mountain State Park is a migratory flyway for many birds. Pictured are Monarch migrations in the United States. (Contributed)

Many animals migrate for many different reasons. A few animals that migrate are birds, butterflies, elk, frogs and whales, just to name a few.

To be counted as a true migration, and not just a local dispersal or irruption, the movement of the animals should be an annual or seasonal occurrence, such as birds migrating south for the winter; wildebeest migrating annually for seasonal grazing; or a major habitat change as part of their life, such as young Atlantic salmon leaving the river of their birth when they have reached a few inches in size.

One migration, known as fall migration, for some animals, has already begun but for many it will not happen for a few more weeks.

Migration doesn’t have an exact start date but can vary by weeks depending on temperature and food availability.

Oak Mountain is in a migratory flyway for many birds; therefore, we see quite a few species that we normally wouldn’t throughout the year.

Between now and spring, we could be graced with presence of birds such as the Dark-eyed Junco, American Goldfinch, Ovenbird and White-throated Sparrow.

The Dark-eyed Junco and the American Goldfinch may winter here in Alabama, while the other two will continue on south to the coast or even to Central and South America.

Some species don’t make the complete migration. For example, Monarch and Painted Lady butterflies mate along their migration route, and the offspring travel the next stage of the migration journey.

Some fish in Alabama are migratory in response to the best place to lay their eggs. Some of our fish species spawn in freshwater but live in saltwater and some live in freshwater but spawn in saltwater.

An example of this is the Gulf Sturgeon, which adults live in saltwater and travel up rivers to spawn in fresher water.

Humans will even migrate in response to seasonal changes.

Many Alabama State Parks have snowbirds, people who for most of the year live up north but head south for the warmer winters. Migration is for everyone!

Please remember that you keep Alabama State Parks open by visiting them.