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      Nature Report: Fall Migration

      Throughout the Rio Grande Valley colorful songbirds are flitting thru backyards while overhead migrating geese are winging it southward.

      Fall migration is in full swing in deep South Texas, and it is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the annual passage of birds thru our area. Each spring and fall millions of birds pass thru southernmost Texas on their way to breeding grounds and wintering homes.

      While the same species of birds frequent the Valley during the spring and fall migrations, the pattern of their passage differs. Dr. Bart Ballard, avian studies scientist, with Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M Kingsville has been conducting groundbreaking research on migratory birds in South Texas.

      For the past several years Dr. Ballard and his graduate students have been operating a pair of sophisticated mobile radar units along the lower Texas coast during the spring and fall migrations, and their research has established southernmost coastal Texas as the most important migratory corridor in North America with literally hundreds of millions of birds funneling thru the area. The researchers have also documented distinct differences in the migratory habits of many species of birds during the spring and fall.

      Dr. Bart Ballard, "They fly a little higher during the spring, and they are much more nocturnal in their migration in the spring. In the fall it is quite diurnal, they migrate during the day." The spring migration of songbirds in particular is also more direct and many fly straight across the Gulf of Mexico while in the fall they tend to fly around the Gulf. The urgency of the spring migration is keyed to nesting success and competition to establish breeding territories in the best areas. While migration behavior may differ, spring and fall both provide the very best opportunity for birding in the Rio Grande Valley. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore