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Backyard Birding. Students should take time to appreciate nature found in their own backyards.

Michelle Yin, News Reporter

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Backyards are not known for attracting wildlife, but given the right habitat, wildlife can flourish. With peak migration season occurring from August to October, the number of bird species in Indiana will certainly rise. As someone who has bird-watched for several years now, I believe that people should take advantage of peak migration season to see many birds while never leaving their houses.

One misconception about suburbs is that they support little to no wildlife. However, in some cases, this could not be further from the truth. Suburbs can have a variety of habitats such as forests, lawns and cities that can cater to a variety of adaptive species. Indeed, when John Marzluff, ornithologist and author of Welcome to Subirdia, conducted a survey of his neighborhood and a nearby forest in 2014, he found that the suburb was more diverse than the forest. Of course, this is all provided that there is adequate area of appropriate habitat available.

So now that it is established that suburbs can be healthy habitats for a diverse body of bird species, why is migration season any different from winter or summer? A laborious flip through a field guide will demonstrate that a huge number of species are found in Indiana only during migration season. An example: of the 36 warbler species that can be reliably found in Central Indiana, 25 are found only during spring and fall migration. Thus, people can find a variety of bird species while never straying beyond 25 miles from home (this includes state and city parks).

Perhaps the most compelling reason to go outside is the birds themselves. Warblers, the most famous family of North American migrants, is one such example. One nickname for this family is “butterflies of the bird world,” an apt name for these energetic and colorful birds. Seeing a warbler species is always a treat for me and could be the first step for others pursuing bird-watching. Plus, migration season is a chance to see many such species at one time.

Given the ability to see a large number of birds in such a short time and in a convenient spot, people should take the time to go outside and search through their backyards or local parks for migrants.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Michelle Yin at [email protected]

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