If you have a fear of birds, especially in great numbers, you may just want to stay indoors this weekend. It will be a gigantic weekend for birds going through their ritual of migration for the upcoming fall and winter.

According to Bird Cast, nearly 59 million birds are in flight as I type this story. That's nothing compared to what we'll see this weekend, with the most popular routes going right through the states of Iowa and Wisconsin.

Dokter, A.M. 2023/Birdcast, live migration map; 9-15-23
Dokter, A.M. 2023/Birdcast, live migration map; 9-15-23

Admittedly, I'm not a huge follower of bird migration. If you're not either, you might be surprised at the number of birds that migrate at night. Bird Cast estimates that 364 million birds will be in flight tonight (Friday, September 15). Some of the highest concentrations of tonight's migrating birds will be in south central Iowa, as well as a huge swath of Minnesota.

The biggest night will be Saturday (September 16) when 394 million birds are expected to be migrating. The state of Iowa, as well as much of Wisconsin, will be among the highest concentration of birds in the nation.

Van Doren, B. M and Horton, K. G. 2023, Birdcast
Van Doren, B. M and Horton, K. G. 2023, Birdcast, migration forecast map. Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University. birdcast.info. 9-15-23

Bird Cast says, "Bird migration forecasts show predicted nocturnal migration 3 hours after local sunset and are updated every 6 hours. These forecasts come from models trained on the last 23 years of bird movements in the atmosphere as detected by the US NEXRAD weather surveillance radar network."

Iowa is part of the migration superhighway and this weekend that highway in the sky will be very busy. You may have trouble seeing the birds, but you may hear them. If you do, and they're directly overhead, you might not want to look up. I hope the reason is obvious.

Below are photos of migrating pelicans in eastern Iowa in April of 2022.

Pelicans at the Coralville Reservoir Migrating Their Way Through Iowa

Iowa gets to see these beautiful creatures twice each year.

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