Page 46 - South Mississippi Living - February, 2024
P. 46

  February Offers a Great Time for Mississippi Birding
1: Black-Necked Stilt.
2:White-facedIbis. 3: Bald Eagle with nest.
4: American Coot.
5: Black-crowned Night Heron. 6: Bobwhite Quail.
7: Canadian Goose.
8: Brown Pelican.
9: American Avocet.
10: Drake Green-winged Teal.
story and photos by John N. Felsher
People can see many birds in Mississippi any time, but February offers one of the best times to go birding in the state. By February, birds migrating to Mississippi for the winter already arrived and haven’t started their spring northward migrations yet.
Birds migrating farther south stop in Mississippi to build up strength before crossing the Gulf of Mexico. For returning in late winter or early spring, Mississippi gives them their first place to land, rest and recover from that part of their journey before continuing northward.
“During the winter months, people see waterfowl and other birds that they wouldn’t normally see
in Mississippi at other times of the year,” advises Nick Winstead, an ornithologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Museum of Natural Science in Jackson. “The Coast is a good spot to see diverse birds. Brown pelicans are resident birdsallyearlongontheGulfCoast,butwhite pelicans come in during the winter months.”
Also, birds reach their most colorful stages in late winter. During the summer, many birds, especially waterfowl, molt and replace their feathers. They lose their brilliant colors in the “eclipse” stage so they can hide from predators while nesting. In the fall, the bright colors in the males return so they can impress the females when breeding season begins in late winter or early spring.
South Mississippi offers birds varied habitat choices. | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living
 46 | February 2024

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