Songbirds migrate to our region every Spring from Central and South America. These birds are called neotropical songbirds. Warblers, vireos, tanagers, swifts, cuckoos, swallows, thrushes, and hummingbirds are some of the species that you might see! Here, in the Northeastern region of North Carolina, there are over fifty species of Spring migratory birds. They find large stands of bottomland forests perfect for feeding, nesting, and breeding.
Neotropical birds migrate to North America to find food. As Fall begins in the Southern Hemisphere, food sources begin to dwindle. While in North America, Spring brings forth an abundance of nectar, insects, seeds, and worms. Of course, food is important to all animals, especially when they are providing for their young.
This migration is amazing! Most neotropical birds travel one thousand miles, flying along the coast of Central America and Mexico, or even flying over the Gulf of Mexico! Birds travel at night and will stop in safe areas during the day to feed and rest for the next flight. Flying at night allows these birds avoid predators, fly in less windy conditions, and to produce body heat that keeps them warm in the night chill.
The longest flights are made by the Purple Martin and red-eyed vireo. To reach North Carolina, these birds begin their journey in Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Brazil or Argentina! That is over four thousand miles!
Some neotropical songbirds are brightly colored and sing beautiful, complex songs. Unique songs and coloration serve to help the birds find or attract a mate and establish territory. In some species, it is only the male that is brightly colored, while females blend in with their habitat making them less visible to predators.