Tourists are not the only ones who visit Fort Lauderdale when the temperature drops in other parts of country. Between October and May, many animals head here to seek water, shelter, and food.
Birds are among the most common migrators passing through our area. The term "snowbird" has its origins with seasonal visitors whose travel mimics the paths of birds who winter here and summer in farther nortth. According to the Tropical Audubon Society, common migrating birds that you may see in South Florida include the Lesser Nighthawk, Swainson's Hawk, Rufous Hummingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Western Tanager.
Fort Lauderdale and the entire state of Florida are a part of the Atlantic Flyway, a migration route for birds along the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, and South America. The Atlantic Flyway transports over 500 species of birds each year, and millions of individual birds. It is a critical migration route because of the lack of mountains that would otherwise be an obstacle for birds and also because there are a variety of ecosystems along the route, from forests, to beaches, and from urban parks to wetlands, that provide habitats for many different species.
Unfortunately, many of the Flyway habitats are threatened.. While population growth and development continue to encroach upon habitat, a larger, more eminent threat is climate change. Tony changes in average temperatures and the intrusion of salt water into fresh as a result of sea level rise, can cause dramatic changes in key habitats such as The Everglades and also in less famous perching places such as Birch State Park. Public-private conservation efforts aim to reestablish colonies of wading birds that have left their habitat due to drainage, encroaching development, contaminated water and other issues.
How You Can Help
There are many things Fort Lauderdale neighbors can do to create a welcoming habitat for our feathered visitors.
- Plant native, flowering plants to attract the three B's of a healthy yard: birds, bees and butterflies. Certified Wildlife Habitats are easy to develop and create the perfect environment for native birds.
- Provide water, shelter and nesting sites with natural or commercial bird baths, wood piles, natural holes in tree trunks and other cavities for nesting.
- Provide a variety of quality seeds for birds, and clean your birdfeeder regularly to avoid spreading disease.
- Don't use pesticides. They can directly affect birds, as well as kill weeds that produce seeds or insects - both of which are food sources for foods.
- Forgo the lawn mower and let a small part or all of your land go wild with wildflowers and grasses. Be sure to consult any neighborhood associations to negotiate guidelines. And be sure to guard against pests by encouraging natural pest control.
The following websites have information on birding in general, and specifically on migration patterns, environmental issues, and information about getting involved in protecting birds.
Interested to go bird watching in and around Fort Lauderdale? The South Florida Audubon Society, Broward COunty's chapter, has a list of Birding Hot Spots in Broward, or look for locations nearby along the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail.
The Tropical Audobon Society is a non-profit chapter of the Audubon Society of Florida and the National Audobon Society. They work to foster and promote ecological conscientiousness in the community by conservation and education efforts.
The National Audubon Society is a non-profit environmental organization that works to conserve and restore natural ecosystems for birds and other wildlife. Each year, they run the Great Backyard Bird Count which Fort Lauderdale Neighbors are encouraged to join.