The level of activity in your backyard this time of year can be exciting! New bird species are showing up, at least briefly, and we can feel the change in temperature and day length that prompts migrants to start their journey south. Serious students of migration know to “follow the weather” to determine where and when birds are moving and stopping, since birds prefer to wait until weather conditions are favorable to fly to their next stopover site. Many birds migrate during the night, yet, amazingly, good birders can identify these species by flight calls overhead. These birds will “drop out” in the morning, landing to actively search for food to build reserves for the next flight. Rain, fog, wind direction, and the passage of cold fronts can all impact whether birds choose to take off on the next leg of their migration, and how long they stay in one area. The radar systems which weather forecasters use to inform us about what to expect can also detect migrating birds. After all, birds are just like drops of water moving across the landscape! See if you can figure out the relationship between your local weather and the birds you see. You might even be able to predict when to expect the next surprise visitors!