Why Do Some Birds Migrate While Others Don’t?

During migration season, I'm often asked why some birds choose to migrate while others are content to stay in the same area year round.

Many birds are making their way south to their wintering grounds. But, there are many others that choose not to migrate.  Some birds are content to stay in the north during the tough winter months. While this might seems strange, you have to consider why exactly it is that birds migrate.

Why Do Some Birds Migrate While Others Don't?©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma Northern Cardinals are one of our mostly non-migratory species.

One of the first things to consider is that migration is mainly about food source not temperature. Many of these birds would be able to survive in cold temperatures if they were able to find food. Most birds that eat fruit or insects must move south in the winter in order to find enough food to survive. Many birds that eat seeds can find plenty of food over the winter months to survive.

In order to find enough food, birds make different kinds of migrations. Some birds only migrate very short distances such as from a higher elevation to a lower elevation. Others travel a bit farther such as to the southern United States while others make the long journey to Central and South America.

Why Do Some Birds Migrate While Others Don't?©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma Black-throated Green Warblers migrate all the way to Central America.

Check back soon to learn about what causes birds to begin their migrations.

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.