“Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.”
~Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) American scholar, statistician, and teacher
(Pictured above are ducks migrating through my area: a male Ring-necked duck and four Hooded Mergansers.)
What is it about some birds that compel them to migrate? Once they begin their journey, how do they know when it is time to stop? How do they know when it is time to return? Scientists continue to study and learn about this phenomenon!
Here are a few facts that I found interesting about bird migration:
- At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world. (Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)–Audubon.org.
- The Bar-tailed Godwit can fly for nearly 7,000 miles without stopping, making it the bird with the longest recorded non-stop flight. During the eight-day journey, the bird doesn’t stop for food or rest–Audubon.org.
- Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of migrating predators such as raptors. The cooler, calmer air at night also makes migration more efficient for many species, while those that migrate during the day most often take advantage of solar-heated thermal currents for easy soaring–birding.about.com.
- The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the southeastern United States every spring, a journey of 500-600 miles over the Caribbean Sea that takes 24 hours without a break–birding.about.com.
- Migrating birds face many threats along their journeys, including window collisions, confusing lights that disrupt navigation, hunting, habitat loss and predation. Juvenile birds are at greater risk because of their inexperience with migration – yet somehow, birds successfully migrate every year–birding.about.com.
So, consider putting out and keeping full a bird feeder and/or bird bath in the spring and the fall. There are some tired and hungry birds traveling at these times of year!