Large bird migration expected in Virginia Thursday evening

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 11:38 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Thursday night a large migration of birds will be coming to the Commonwealth.

142 million birds are predicted to migrate and Virginia is one of several states expected to see a high intensity.

Wildlife experts say Thursday evening is expected to be the first big push of spring bird migration.

“Early May and late April is the best time to see a large number of migrating songbirds primarily through this area,” Haley Olsen-Hodges, director of operations at the Wildlife Center of Southwest Virginia said.

She said when they migrate they are stocking up on water and food before they head north.

Some birds have already made their way to Virginia for spring migration, but Olsen-Hodges said the ones coming are worth getting the binoculars out to see.

“So some of our most colorful birds such as Baltimore Orioles, Scarlett Tanagers and even Indigo Buntings, those are birds that migrate from other places and so those beautiful, colorful birds and their beautiful songs are going to be coming back to Virginia soon,” she said.

However, there are some things you can do to protect the flocks coming in.

“Turning off your lights at night on these high migration push nights like as this Thursday is and doing so throughout this spring season and again in the fall is very important for the survivability of these birds,” Olsen Hodges said.

She said birds migrate at night to avoid predators and they use the stars as a guide.

Olsen-Hodges said birds can interpret any outdoor light as stars, which can lead them to hit windows on buildings and cause internal and external injuries to the birds.

‘I found a bird it seemed fine after 30 minutes I let it go ... that’s not, that worked you know that was the way of the world you know several years ago but now we’ve done research and we know that there’s a lot more going on and if we can save those birds especially if they’re birds that are migrants that are those declining species we can really make a difference,” she said.

To find out more on bird migration there is a website to see it happening in real-time.

Follow WHSV and Chief Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz for more spring migration stories.

We have updated links on migration maps such as bird, monarch butterfly and hummingbird here: