How birds migrate?
Birds cannot survive at the same place throughout the year. They have to move or migrate due to several reasons including weather, predators, and availability of sources. But, how do birds migrate?
Most of the species of birds have to travel several miles over the Earth throughout the year. When spring approaches, most of the birds tend to travel to the moderate or temperate areas where they can have plenty of food resources and several options for building their nests.
Basically, birds face difficulties to survive in winter conditions, therefore as soon as the autumn comes they prepare themselves to move towards warmer regions. Warmer regions are more suitable with the bird anatomy, and hence they follow specific weather patterns for migration.
Already being unique creatures, with their ability to fly, birds are fascinating creatures and get almost everybody to have a look at them. Every winter and summer seasons, we see migrations of several birds. Their birds do not have any satellite transmission channeling them, but they can still locate the same position they want to be. So how do birds remember the route? To explore this unique ability, we are here with one of the most intriguing questions about birds, which is How birds migrate?.
The basics of bird migration
When we talk about migration, we see several birds migrating in flocks, usually in a V-shape. The fact is movement plays a significant role in the survival of the birds. When the seasons change, there is a shortage of food, and for most birds, it is hard to bear the extreme temperatures of the changing season. Therefore as a survival technique, birds have learned and evolved themselves with time to travel to such places where they can find plenty of food and bearable temperature.
The continuation of their species is the primary purpose of their life. Therefore to ensure breeding and successful nurturing of the young birds, migration is necessary. However, the migration rule does not apply to all birds. Many species have evolved themselves to bear the harshness of the cold seasons; these birds have better anatomy for different seasons, heat-reserving bodies due to thick feathers. On the other hand, some birds can also take advantage of all seasons and hence can survive even in long winters. But, for half of the bird species, migration is a visible part of their lives.
How does bird migration work?
How birds migrate? And how do they know where to migrate? These are the common FAQs related to birds. Among all these questions, the primary problem is what techniques they follow while traveling from one place to another. Below I am going to mention some of the conventional methods used by most of the bird species.
Estimating magnetic fields:
Birds can detect changes in the magnetic field of the earth. They are capable of doing this due to the presence of several chemicals or compounds in their brains and eyes. Thus they can go in any direction they want. They have to align themselves with the right direction according to the course of the field. Well, we can say we have to use a physical compass while they have a built-in one.
Locating the right place by memory:
Remember that birds don’t change their route every year when they travel from one place to another. They keep their track the same every time they visit. So, they have developed a sort of visual map in their minds. So, whenever they go: and see the same rivers, lakes, or mountains, they then know they are heading in the right direction.
Birds Locating through stars:
Identifying routes through the stars have been one of the most ancient methods in the history of cartography. So, birds use the same way as we humans did in ancient times. They use starts for alignment and to keep themselves on the right path. During the day, they also seek the help of the sun.
This phenomenon applies to snow geese and cranes; they can transfer their memories to their younger offspring. Baby birds have to travel only once to the destination, and then they can remember it for their lives. After memorization, even at younger ages, they can migrate.
15 fun facts about How birds migrate?
Apart from the question of how birds migrate? There are several fabulous phenomenons related to migrating birds; in the section below, we are going to study some.
- We all love hummingbirds because of their colors and speed, but they are also the tiniest birds that migrate.
- Migratory birds do excessive flying, and hence they can cover very long distances, almost 1600 miles. Some birds reach their destination in two months, and for that, they have to fly nearly 8 hours per day.
- When you think that that’s the same bird you saw last year, the deja vu is right. Birds have an instinct to know when and where to migrate. They use the aid of elements present in the sky, stars, sun band moon, and reach the same destination every year.
- Birds don’t randomly migrate; they have to prepare for the ferocious and tiresome journey. To be in the air for almost 8 hours a day, they need a lot of energy. Therefore, before migration, they tend to store up fats in their bodies, which they can burn later.
- Wisconsin is one of the hotspots of migrating birds. You can observe almost 30 million birds in May.
- As birds embark on their journey, they have to face several difficulties on their route. Many birds die during the traveling process. One of the major threats is potential predators, which are mostly owls, ravens, and hawks. In addition to this drastic climate change, oil rings in the ocean, windmills, and bird hunters are among the significant villains during the migration of birds.
Effect of migration bird human analysis
How birds migrate? While birds move from one place to another, they leave several hidden phenomenons for us to explore. Scientists have found several fantastic features that I am going to mention below.
More the distance more the speed:
In researches, avian specialists have found out that those birds which have to travel longer distances fly at a higher speed. When they observed speed rates of different birds, they found out that billed cuckoo(the black one) operates at a pace which is ten times greater than the usual sparrow, which doesn’t do long-distance migrations. Experts say that “to migrate from one place to another is a complicated and challenging task. Birds fly at high speeds because they have to reduce time, energy expenditure, and risks of potential predators.”
East-direction birds follow loops:
Researchers also found that most of the species of the eastern birds follow a loop either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The prime reason behind this looping is said to be the direction of the winds. These birds migrate over the ocean in the loop when autumn season ends. This technique helps them to prevent the strong winds, and hence they can avoid significant energy expenditure. To save energy, they also float on the tailwinds while they migrate during spring over the Mexican Gulf.
Spring birds copy the green signal:
How birds migrate? There is a sudden boom in the greenery in our surroundings. It is an indication for the spring birds, and they religiously follow what is called “green wave.”
The study reveals that insect lover birds like black-necked Blue warblers are one of the prominent species of the birds which follow this green wave. Ultimately it is also related to the time when insects come out. So for insectivorous bird species means a lot of food.
How far do birds migrate?
Almost every second species of birds use to migrate, out of bird species which are known to the world, 40% are migrants.
When birds migrate, they can achieve great distances and heights almost unimaginable. One of the highest-flying birds is bar-headed geese. When they fly over the Himalayas, which is located in India, they can easily reach the height of above sea level and can fly up to the height of five and a half miles above from the sea. Apart from these, the highest-flying bird, which is recorded till now, is a vulture known as griffon vulture. But, God wished, it collided with an airplane at the height of 37000 feet and became the fuel for the engine.
As far as the flying tenure is concerned, no one can beat Arctic terns. These amazingly designed birds can fly a distance up to 49,700 miles in a year. So they spend half the time in the Arctic and the other half in Antarctica. In this way, they are capable of seeing summers two times in a year. If we calculate their 30-year migrating distance, it would be equal to the moon’s range and the back.
Northern wheat eaters are also famous for their long-distance journeys. They can also cover 9000 miles covering the range from the Arctic to Africa. Among songbirds, these are the birds with the longest tenure. Their weight plays an essential role in their journey; they are only half ounce.
Now let’s talk about the most agile bird, and it is the great snipe. This little beast can cover 42000 miles at a speed of 60 meters per hour. Any other animal is incapable of traveling at such high speeds and for such long distances. Birds usually take the aid of tailwinds, winds that blow in the same direction in which they are going, and hence they can travel faster.
How do birds know when to migrate?
How birds migrate? And how are they aware that this is the right time? Birds are the changes in seasons from minor details like changes in the angles of the sun and the quality of sunlight during the whole day. They instinctively know that this is the right time, and when they are aware of it, they will begin to fly; however, there are other few factors which also play some role.
- Excessive food supplies or the presence of food diversity
- Harsh weather, rains, storms, etc.
- Condition of the wind and airflow.
- Any significant injury or wounds that need time for recovery.
Questions and Answers
How birds migrate national geographic?
Migration is an essential part of the lives of the birds. Birds have to travel from one place to another due to several reasons, including survival, low food resources, and harsh weather. Different birds have different routes and diverse destinations. However, migration is a hazardous process in their lives.
How birds migrate by magnetic fields?
Birds have built-in chemicals and compounds in their brains, eyes, and ears to detect the changes (increase or decrease) in the magnetic field of the earth. They orient themselves according to these fields and hence can calculate the desired place.