Different Bird Migration

Escrito em 10 de agosto de 2023

Different Bird Migration

Bird migration vulgarly means two-way journeys - the onward from home to a new place and the journey back. As we previously covered in other articles, this migration tends to happen in specific periods of time, usually, spring and autumn, as birds look for better conditions to ensure their survival. 

In this article, we will write about some of the bird migration types. Not all birds migrate, but, one way or another, every species is subject to some periodical movement. Typically, the birds in the Northern Hemisphere have more tendency to migrate. 

Types of Bird Migration

  • Latitudinal (North-South)

The latitudinal migration refers to the wildly known movement from north to south and vice versa. Many species live in the northern temperate hemisphere, where they get better breeding conditions. Once these conditions change, birds move towards the south, looking for good conditions that allow them to spend the winter.

This is the most vulgar way of migration among birds, from Penguins swimming south to Shearwaters flying above the sea and to the smallest passerines covering vast distances over land. Some of the most popular examples are the Arctic Tern, the Great Snipe, the Bar-tailed Godwit and the Northern Wheatear. 


  • Longitudinal (East-West)

The migration variation includes movements from east to west and vice versa. In this case, bird species, or populations of these species, residents in the east migrate to the west during winter. The phenomenon occurs both in the Western Palearctic Region and in North America. In the WP region, some examples of species are the Common Starlings, the Skylark and the Chiffchaff.  


  • Altitudinal

This type of migration concerns the movements in high altitudes in mountainous regions. Bird species that inhabit the mountains may migrate to lower altitudes during winter. The Golden Plover, the Wallcreeper, and the Alpine Accentor are examples of species. 


  • Vagrant 

Vagrant or irregular migration refers to the dispersive movement of some bird species or populations of bird species. This occurs when the birds make shorter movements looking for better shelter or a greater abundance of food. Herons, Greater Flamingos, and Glossy Ibis are good examples of species that usually make this type of migration in the WP Region. 


  • Partial 

Partial migration is when not all species of birds participate in a migratory movement. A group of birds feel the urge to migrate, but another considerable part of the population stays in the same location for winter. The White Storks and the House Martins are great examples of this phenomenon. 


  • Complete

Total or complete migration means that all the birds of a particular species migrate south for winter and abandon their breeding areas. This occurs with most of the arctic species, namely the majority of the wanders. 


Besides the types of migration, birds have different migration patterns, depending on their predominant ecosystem, behaviour, or external conditions. 

For example, migratory movements regarding geese, pelicans, eagles or swallows may occur during the day. However, the majority of the bird species migrate during the night. 

And, of course, some species migrate in the sea, under like Penguins, or over it, like any other marine species. On the other hand, land birds fly mostly over land. But, there are some exceptions, such as the Barn Swallows or the Northern Wheatear, that cover huge distances over open oceans. But, on some occasions, land birds are forced to cross seas. For instance, the Mediterranean Sea can be a great challenge for many terrestrial birds of Western and Northern Europe. They either cross wherever they can or are obliged to look for the narrowest passages. 


Regardless of the type of migration or its pattern, one thing is true. Birds' arduous, sometimes long, journeys have always been of great effort and risk. 


Other articles about this subject:

Are birds in trouble during migration? -

How can I help birds during fall migration? -

Autumn Bird Migration -

Spring Bird Migration -

Why do birds migrate? -