Every year from mid-November to mid-January, one of the great planetary migrations, the Niagara River Gull Migration, takes place here our region. If you are like most people, you may think of gulls as a nuisance, and refer to them generically as “seagulls,” but there are about 50 species of gulls worldwide, and they are not common in many places. Only three species of gulls are known on the entire continent of Australia. Here along the Niagara River Corridor, we have 19 species!
The Niagara River gull migration involves hundreds of thousands of individual birds each day. Some of them are traveling from breeding grounds in the western Arctic and are heading toward the Atlantic and south. Some roost in large floating rafts in nearby lakes Erie and Ontario and travel the river to feed and socialize. Some of these species of birds are extremely rare. Why does this happen?
The Niagara River Corridor connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, and links the rest of the Great Lakes and the interior of North America to the East Coast and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. The water and other natural resources that flow through here, including wildlife, are abundant and valuable on many levels. It is part of a planetary biosphere that is physically connected to the Niagara region. Why does it matter?
The Great Lakes region, the Niagara River, and the gull migration are globally important assets that have garnered worldwide attention. In 1996 a coalition of government, community, local, national, and international organizations designated the Niagara River Corridor as one of the world’s “globally significant important bird areas,” due in large part to the gull migration. This designation puts our area in the same league as Yellowstone, the Everglades, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks. For more information
To learn more about birds and other animals that migrate through the Niagara River Corridor, where to go to see the birds, and what species to look for, visit: GrowWNY.org
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