Atlantic Flyway Brings Migratory Species to the Wildlife Center of Virginia


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Fall is an important time for many wild birds in North America: migration time.

Every fall, billions of birds in North America take to the skies on their annual migrations in search of various combinations of warmer climates, better food availability, lack of predators, or other resources. Simply put, migration involves moving from areas where resources are scarce to areas where resources are abundant.

In Virginia, migratory birds generally pass through a predictable geographic area known as the Atlantic Flyway. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Appalachian Mountains to the west, this migratory “super highway” runs the length of the eastern United States and Canada.

The location of the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro means that the facility is located in the heart of this road. It also means that at this time of year, migration is on the minds of veterinary and rehabilitation staff.

Migratory broad-winged hawks, nightjars, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and warblers appear in greatest numbers as patients in the center.

“These guys come in for a lot of different reasons, like being hit by cars, flying into buildings or windows, or being what we call stunted,” said Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor Kelsey Pleasants. “When we have migratory species in rehabilitation, we have to keep the timeline of the rehabilitation plan first and foremost in our brains, that’s the most crucial part.

“There’s a definite window of time where they have to catch that flyway south and be able to get from a place that’s lacking in resources to a place that’s full of resources so that they can thrive,” he said. she declared. “We need to make sure they are released in time to be able to catch this group heading south.”

More information about migratory birds at the centre, including easy-to-follow steps you can take to help migratory species on their journeys, can be found here.

Awareness event in Afton on Saturday

The center’s outreach and education staff are also focusing on migrating birds this fall.

On Saturday, September 17, Outreach Coordinator Connor Gillespie will present two special education programs featuring the center’s non-releasable education ambassadors at the 2022 Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch Open House in Afton.

The event is free and open to the public.

More details can be found on the center Event calendar.

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