In search of food and better weather
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Did you know that birds don't just migrate south for the winter! Take for example the Wigeon. These birds arrive in October for our warm winter - yes that's right our warm winter! So they haven't migrated from the South - they have flown from the North! In the spring they will breed in Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia, where they can find the right habitat to make a nest and look after chicks. But the weather there in the winter will be freezing - all of their food and grass, will be covered in snow and frozen solid. So the Wigeon, and many other ducks and geese, fly south to the UK and our warmer winters. The birds will find enough food and shelter to survive and then migrate north in the spring.
One of the strangest facts about migration is that it would be more risky for a bird to stay in the wrong habitat than for it to travel thousands of miles. The journey might be full of danger but they are more likely to survive another year if they travel to a better habitat. The smallest bird to migrate across different countries is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It builds up its food until it weighs 6g (that the same as a 10p coin) and then flies 600 miles from North America to Central America!
There is a lovely book called "Follow the Swallow" by Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson. The story is all about migration and features Apollo the Swallow and his friend Chack the Blackbird. Hopefully you might find it in your school or local library.
Wigeon (Top) Chiffchaff (Middle) Humming Bird (Bottom)