do all birds migrate in flocks

Many species of birds fly in groups. A group of birds is called a flock or flight of birds. Birds are not the only animals to flock; other animals that practice flocking-type behaviors include fish, locusts and bacteria.

Range maps This animated map shows where Common Yellowthroats occur each week of the year. The colors indicate the numbers of birds: darker or more purple colors indicate higher numbers of birds, lighter, yellow colors indicate fewer birds. Map from

Using the range maps in your field guide to ascertain whether and when a specific species might be present is always a good idea. Range maps are especially useful when working with migratory species. They can be confusing, though, as bird ranges can change from year to year, especially for invasive species like redpolls. Furthermore, some species’ ranges can change fairly quickly, sometimes even within the time it takes for a field guide to be republished. (The Eurasian Collared-Dove is the best example of this problem. ).

Digital range map versions that are driven by data are starting to address these limitations. The hundreds of millions of eBird observations that birdwatchers from all over the world have submitted have made the maps possible. Scientists can now create animated maps that depict a species’ ebb and flow across a continent over the course of a year thanks to “Big Data” analyses, which also help them understand more general patterns of movement.

Migration is a fascinating study and there is much yet to learn. Songbird Journeys, by the Cornell Lab’s Miyoko Chu, explores many aspects of migration in an interesting and easy-to-read style. The Cornell Lab’s Handbook of Bird Biology provides even more information on the amazing phenomenon of bird migration.

do all birds migrate in flocks

How do birds navigate?

During their yearly journey, migrating birds can cover thousands of miles, frequently following the same path with little change from year to year. Often, first-year birds migrate for the first time on their own Despite never having seen it before, they manage to locate their winter residence somehow, and the next spring they return to their birthplace.

Birds use a variety of senses to navigate, so part of the reason why their incredible navigational abilities are still a mystery. Birds can sense the earth’s magnetic field, the sun, and the stars to determine their compass. They also obtain information from landmarks observed during the day and from the location of the setting sun. There’s even proof that smell matters, at least when it comes to pigeon homing.

Certain species migrate annually along certain paths, notably waterfowl and cranes. These routes frequently connect to significant rest stops that offer food supplies that are essential to the birds’ survival. Smaller birds typically migrate across the landscape in broad fronts. Numerous small birds use different routes in the spring and fall to take advantage of seasonal variations in weather and food sources, according to studies using eBird data.

Traveling a distance that could total several thousand miles round trip is a risky and difficult task. The endeavor puts the birds’ physical and mental prowess to the test. The risks of the journey are increased by the physical strain of the journey, inadequate food supplies along the way, inclement weather, and increased exposure to predators.

In recent decades long-distant migrants have been facing a growing threat from communication towers and tall buildings. Many species are attracted to the lights of tall buildings and millions are killed each year in collisions with the structures. The Fatal Light Awareness Program, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and BirdCast’s Lights Out project, have more about this problem.

do all birds migrate in flocks

Researchers examine migration using a variety of methods, such as satellite tracking, banding, and a more recent approach using lightweight devices called geolocators. Finding significant wintering and stopover sites is one of the objectives. Once located, these important sites can be saved and protected with the right measures.

The Central Platte River Valley in Nebraska serves as a staging area for 500,000 Sandhill Cranes and a few endangered Whooping Cranes each spring as they migrate north to breeding and nesting grounds in Canada, Alaska, and the Siberian Arctic.

Types of Birds That Flock Together

Although flocking behaviors are practiced by many birds, not all of them do While some birds live in flocks year-round, others only come together during certain occasions, such as the breeding season. Well-known V-shaped flocking birds include waterfowl, ibises, storks, geese, and pelicans. Birds that form larger flocks include:

  • blackbirds
  • starlings
  • shorebirds
  • robins
  • flamingos
  • cranes
  • pigeons

A murmuration, or large flock of starlings in flight, is one of nature’s most breathtaking sights. Up to 100,000 starlings can be in a murmuration. These enormous flocks, which are typically seen in the early evening, swoop and soar in incredibly intricate formations before coming to rest.

Sandhill cranes are typically found in smaller family groups or pairs. However, these birds famously form large flocks for migration. Between 400,000 and 600,000 sandhill cranes migrate to Nebraska’s central Platte River every year between mid-February and mid-April. Before continuing north to their subarctic nesting grounds, the birds gather for food.

In winter, robins tend to migrate southward in search of warmer temperatures and greater food sources. The distance robins migrate differs significantly. Some robins travel all the way from Vancouver Island to Guatemala, but those that reside in more temperate regions, like Baja California in Mexico, rarely migrate at all. Robin flocks range in size from 10 to 50 birds, but large flocks can have as many as 60,000 robins in them.

Flamingos flock to find better feeding grounds. Between 30,000 and 40,000 flamingos (peaking at 120,000 in April 2019) congregate annually in Mumbai, India’s mudflats to feed on the blue-green algae that blooms there. Highly gregarious birds, flamingos can be seen in pairs, small groups, or huge flocks that can number in the tens of thousands.


Do all birds travel in flocks?

Many types of birds gather in flocks, but not nearly as many fly in flocks or formations, according to the National Audubon Society(Opens in a new window). For example, geese, pelicans and other types of waterfowl often fly in lines or V formations. Canada geese are perhaps the most well-known for flying in formation.

What birds do not migrate?

Which birds do not migrate? The list of non-migrating birds includes some specific, well-known species – Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals – and also includes large groups of birds including black birds, chickadees, doves, finches, nuthatches, sparrows and woodpeckers.

Do birds always migrate in groups?

No, not all migratory birds fly in groups. Each bird decides what flights are best for them and the best route. The only way to know for sure that all migratory birds fly in groups is to look at the migratory patterns of a specific bird.

Do all birds live in flocks?

And they do not always flock with their own kind. Like humans, all birds are social creatures, though like humans, some are more social than others. It’s true that a few bird species are mostly solitary, just as there are human hermits, misogynists, involuntary bachelors and other loners.