The season of fall is here. For many bird species, this means it’s time to take off and begin the long journey of migration. For bird-lovers it means it’s the perfect occasion to witness a spectacle in the sky. With a motivation to escape the harsh weather and lack of resources, these feathery flyers travel for miles and miles to reach areas with abundant food and nesting. Before reaching their ideal location, bird migration can last anywhere between a few weeks to a whole four months. Migration is not only essential for the survival of some birds, but it is an extremely interesting phenomenon to get to understand. Get the ultimate scoop with these five fascinating facts about migration:
1. Its Latin root. The word migration stems from the Latin word, migra, meaning “to move.” Obviously, the correlation between the two words can be easily recognized as birds take flight to move from one location to the next as the seasons begin to change.
2. Dangers and Risks. The journey of migration is far from fun and games. Not only is the adventure time-consuming, but it is also quite dangerous. Due to such factors like extremely harsh weather and human involvement, many migrating birds never make it back to their original location. It is recorded that window collisions alone cause about 1 billion bird deaths per year.
3. Energy Intake. In advance to beginning migration, birds enter a state of hyperphagia. Hyperphagia can be defined as an abnormal increase in appetite. During this time, birds bulk up on their food, store it as fat, and later utilize it as a source of energy during the long trip. For some, this process can even double their normal weight.
4. Professional Navigators. Ever wonder how birds navigate their way during migration? Surely they do not have access to Google Maps or a fancy GPS system. However, they have abilities much cooler than modern technology. Migrating birds have unusual sensory systems. It is through elements such as the sun, land forms, wind patterns, and the magnetic field of the earth that allow them to track where they are, where to go, and where to return.
5. Get in Formation! Have you ever spotted a large group of birds that seem to be flying in an organized pattern? Well, from linear formations to V and J shaped arrangements, migrating birds have a specific reason for why they fly like they do. Birds benefit from the updrafts made by the flapping wing motion from preceding birds: creating an aerodynamic effect for those flying behind. As each bird takes a turn in the front of the formation, the whole flight is able to conserve much energy.
Written by Nicole Afable for Bird-X, Inc.