Complications for migrating birds in the Heartland

UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The odds are if you look up in the Heartland anytime soon, you will see vast numbers of migrating waterfowl like ducks, geese, and swan flying by.

They often stop in this area known as the Mississippi flyaway to rest in a number of the wetlands, according to Wildlife Biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Kenneth Delahunt.

Included in the millions of migrating birds are around 180 different species of waterfowl from the order Anseriformes, according to Delahunt.

He said these birds migration has been slightly delayed due to the warm weather we've had over the past few months slowing the need for them to travel south.

The first major cold front of the season should get more birds moving through the area, according to Delahunt.

Warm weather isn't the only complication. Delahunt said the drought we've experienced since the summer here has left some of the wetland areas dry where waterfowl would normally stop to rest.

This doesn't complicate the ecosystem these birds are stopping by in a whole lot, according to Delahunt. However, he says it does cause birds to stop to rest and eat in more concentrated areas which deplete food sources faster.

In order to combat dry wetlands, wildlife refuges have pumps set up to redirect water back into the area and bring water levels of a little under a foot of water to where waterfowl can comfortably feed.

Delahunt said he is also hoping the cold front will bring more rain to help fill up the pools for these birds to stop in.

Delahunt said while the weather has delayed the arrival of the mass exodus of birds, it shouldn't complicate their journey much longer.

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