More than 300 million birds begin the annual fall migration south for the winter

Every spring and fall, billions of birds migrate across the country in an attempt to find a sustainable ecosystem to survive the coming months — an annual tradition now underway as the United States heads into fall.

According to BirdCast experts, supported by Colorado State University and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York, more than 300 million birds took flight Saturday on their annual migration to southern climates.

According to experts, birds are looking for climates that provide more food and daylight hours as the world heads toward the winter equinox.

The annual migration begins in August and continues through November, but September and October are the peak months in North America.

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“We discovered that every fall, an average of 4 billion birds move south from Canada to the United States. At the same time, another 4.7 billion birds leave the United States across the southern border, heading for the tropics,” said researcher Adrian Docter. In the Cornell laboratory during an intensive study. “In the spring, 3.5 billion birds return to the United States from points south, and 2.6 billion birds return to Canada via the northern US border.”

Some of the more famous species that participate in the annual tradition include Canada geese, hummingbirds, doves, and cranes.

Some birds are thought to fly only a few hundred miles, while others fly entire continents, depending on their ecosystem needs.

The exact timing varies each year, but according to the National Wildlife Federation, some birds will begin their return in February, while others may wait until late May.

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Not all migrations go according to plan, and natural disasters such as hurricanes or even illuminated buildings can alter their journeys with deadly consequences.

With birds so vulnerable to human impacts, the experts behind BirdCast are calling on everyone to get involved in a movement called “Lights Out.”

The group says light pollution disorients birds, leading to many of the more than 300 million deaths in collisions with buildings each year.

The first “Lights Out” program in the United States began in 1999 in the Windy City and expanded to dozens of other communities in the decades that followed.

Simply stopping or blacking out non-essential lightning from 11pm to 6am during critical migration periods can reduce light pollution.

Buildings from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast are participating in the effort, including the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 630-foot-tall monument is located directly below what is a major migration highway, so non-essential nighttime lights are turned off for several weeks in May and September.

The arch’s exterior lights are expected to be back on again in October.

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