July 26th, 2016
People with an interest in the natural world tend to become birdwatchers rather than say bat watchers for the simple reason that birds are easier to see than other members of the animal kingdom. They are also popular to watch because many species make pleasant sounding noises (except for crows and peafowl), some sport brightly colored plumage, and most have evolved the enviable ability to fly.
This latter attribute also allows birds to migrate huge distances in a short amount of time during which they pass through areas not frequented at other times of the year. While they migrate, many of our feathered friends stick to following rivers and coastlines for navigation and because it’s safer than flying over the water. Because of this, migrating birds sometimes concentrate in huge numbers on peninsulas that are strategically situated in the areas they use for migration.
One of the most effective of the “migrant traps” is Point Pelee National Park in southern Ontario, Canada. This park is shaped like a funnel and it has the same affect on migrating birds as a funnel does for pouring liquid. In the Fall, scattered birds on their way south become more concentrated in numbers as they fly down the land mass of the point that becomes more and more narrow until a thin strip of sand juts south into Lake Erie. In the Spring, the point acts like a beacon of hope to huge numbers of birds that are tired and hungry from flying long distances.
The months of May and September are the best times of the year to visit the park and witness flocks of hundreds of small birds trooping through the woods as well as endless strings of ducks, cormorants, gulls, and terns that fly past the point. There are a number of picnic sites, various trails and marsh boardwalks, and because much of the point is closed to cars, the park is also a beautiful place to go biking or for a walk.
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