The Great Migration

From the acoustically talented Sandhill Crane to the speedy but tiny hummingbird, migrating birds take on great risk and find great reward on their bi-annual migrations. Right now, overhead, millions of birds are moving! In fact, May 5th was likely the largest migration night over Oregon, with an estimated 7.3 million birds flying over! Just a few days after that great migration, the planet marks World Migratory Bird Day. Established in 1993, the goal is to raise awareness of how we can support migratory birds.

Check out how many birds are overhead here!


Wildlife Images features several species who migrate… We have clinic patients such as hummingbirds, sparrows and swifts. The tiny Rufous Hummingbird can reach speeds of up to 30 miles an hour on their 4,000 mile migration from breeding grounds in Alaska and northwest Canada to wintering sites in Mexico.

We also have unofficial ambassadors who spend their summers on our pond like Canada Geese, Mallards and Great Blue Herons and then migrate to warmer waters for the winter.


And, of course, we have resident Animal Ambassadors who live with us full time. Their need for human care prevents them from joining the flock for biannual migrations. Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures and Sandhill Cranes all migrate.  Daphne and Niles’ wild cousins have one of the most incredible migrations of all birds!

Sandhill Cranes are the world’s most common crane and one of the few not currently endangered. They live mostly in the far north (Canada and Alaska) during the summer, but can be seen throughout most of the western United States during migration season, when they gather in flocks of up to 10,000 individuals. Sandhill Cranes have been migrating along the same general route for 10,000 years and it has been referred to as the greatest migration in North America. Many sandhill cranes head to the harvested fields and wetlands of Nebraska in a massive and stunning migration. Nebraska is the only state where it is illegal to hunt these beautiful birds. Found in freshwater wetlands, Sandhill Cranes are opportunistic eaters that enjoy plants, grains, mice, snakes, insects, or worms.



Migrations can be perilous for birds but they are a necessity. They face predators, man made dangers, and habitat loss. The National Wildlife Federation suggests these five simple ways to help support migratory birds.


  1. Keep your cat indoors—this is best for your cat as well as the birds, as indoor cats live an average of three to seven times longer. Even well fed, cats kill birds. Consider adding a CATio to make for happy cats and safe wildlife.
  2. Prevent birds from hitting your windows by using a variety of treatments to the glass on your home.
  3. Eliminate pesticides from your yard—even those pesticides that are not directly toxic to birds can pollute waterways and reduce insects that birds rely on for food.
  4. Create backyard habitat—if you have a larger yard, create a diverse landscape by planting native grasses, flowers, and shrubs that attract native birds. You will be rewarded by their beauty and song, and will have fewer insect pests as a result.
  5. Buy organic food and drink shade-grown coffee—increasing the market for produce grown without the use of pesticides, which can be toxic to birds and other animals, will reduce the use of these hazardous chemicals in the U.S. and overseas. Shade coffee plantations maintain large trees that provide essential habitat for wintering songbirds.

Learn more about the vanishing of 3 billion birds in our country and what you can do.