Migratory Birds

Migratory birds - Trumpeter Swans

If you have ever shifted from one place to another you know how difficult and tricky that is. Who wants to leave the comfort of their home?  Can you imagine doing so every year? Well, some birds do migrate away from their homes, every year. Such birds are called migratory birds.

So what makes them leave their cozy nests and migrate over thousands of miles to a new place every year? The main reasons are food and weather. As winter approaches, food becomes scarce and therefore birds move to warmer places in search for food. Few times, birds fly away from home also to give birth to their young ones in a safe environment.

Most birds always migrate in a flock. Apparently, if you fly in a flock it saves a lot of flying energy. The speed of a bird while flying in a flock is faster than if it was flying alone. It is also easier to ward off predators sticking together in a large group. Unity is strength, remember?

Do migratory birds ever get lost during the travel? Never. They are intelligent. To sense direction, they use position of sun, create visual landmarks and also use environmental odours. Year on year these birds use same flight path to migrate. These are called flyways. Flyways sometimes span across continents and oceans. Isn’t that smart? But if birds are so smart, wonder why do we call a silly person a bird brain!

Even flightless birds migrate.  Many penguin species migrate to as far as 1000 km by swimming. Australian Emus travel long distances on foot in times of drought.

Did you know?

Bar-tailed Godwits have the longest known non-stop flight of any migrant. They fly around 11,000 km. Before they start migration, half their bodyweight is stored as fat to give them strength for the non stop journey.


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