Huffman Prairie prime habitat for migratory birds

  • Published
  • By Jaima Fogg
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Twice per year, birds can be observed migrating to and from North America.

In the spring, migratory birds fly thousands of miles from their winter habitats in Central and South America to northern breeding grounds in the United States and Canada. They fly south again in the fall to the warmer climates.

World Migratory Bird Day brings awareness to the need for conservation of migratory birds and their habitats and is celebrated on the second Saturdays in May and October. This fall, it will be observed Oct. 14.

Migratory birds of southwestern Ohio

Several species of migratory birds spend the spring and summer nesting and breeding on Huffman Prairie at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The grasslands, open woodlands, and local lakes and ponds are the preferred habitats for the bobolink, dickcissel, purple martin and ruby-throated hummingbird. 

The bobolink, a blackbird relative, nests and breeds in grassland environments of North America and Canada. This bird’s 12,500-mile round-trip migration extends from its northern breeding grounds through Florida and across the Gulf of Mexico to winter grounds in South America.

Dickcissels are a small, sparrow-like bird that assemble into flocks which can reach into the thousands in preparation for fall migration through the Southern United States to Mexico and South America. They nest and breed in grassland habitats of the Midwest and Southwest.

From the swallow family, purple martins prefer to nest and breed along the edges of lakes and ponds in the North, Southeast and Midwest. They migrate through Mexico to South America in the fall.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America.  During breeding season, it prefers an open woodlands habitat. They migrate through Mexico to winter grounds in Central America.

How to help

Experts say even the most casual bird admirer can help the migratory-bird population:

  • Plant native grasses, flowers and trees that provide food and shelter for birds.
  • Keep cats inside to prevent them from killing native wildlife.
  • Prevent collisions with glass by turning off interior lights at night and applying decals and safety film to avoid bird strikes during the day.

Huffman Prairie is designated as a state natural landmark and actively managed by the 88th Civil Engineer Group’s Environmental Branch. The prairie provides over 100 acres of native wildlife habitat and is an important natural resource for migratory birds. 

For more information about volunteering for conservation events or how to help support Wright-Patt’s natural environment, contact Danielle Trevino at