Migrating Birds

Birds have such interesting lives! They travel all over the world every year on a quest for better food, flora and homes (nesting locations). When the season changes, they do it all over again! Down in the Florida Keys, we will see hawks, 16 species of raptors and peregrine falcons heading south to their winter tropical habitat. In fact, the Keys are considered a migration hotspot as birds stop here for a rest before heading over the water! This website details the Florida Fall Migration.

Below are seven fun facts about bird migration:

1. The Arctic tern flies between the Arctic and Antarctica every year making them the most traveled bird at 49,700 miles each year. This very smart bird experiences two summers each year! Additionally, these birds can live more than 30 years. Hmmm. Who wants to calculate those miles spent flying? It’s too bad we cannot borrow the tern’s frequent flier mileage, yes?

2. The snipe wins the best speed/distance record for flying up to 60 mph for 4,200 miles. Another very interesting factoid is snipes do not seem to rely on tailwinds for speed.

3. Birds rely on celestial navigation when migrating. The earth’s magnetic field and recognizable landforms also play into their route direction.

4. Approximately 350 species of birds are considered long-distance migrants and typically move between North America and Central and South America (in the winter) every year.

5. Waterfowl and cranes follow the same path every year as there are familiar stopping points with critical food supplies that are essential to their survival.

6. Fall migration actually starts in late June although it peaks August through October.

7. Soaring birds such as raptors and hawks are considered diurnal migrants as they rely on thermal soaring for lift so must migrate during the day.

There are SO many other fun facts about bird migration. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Below are other sources for you to learn more about this truly natural wonder.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/the-basics-how-why-and-where-of-bird-migration/

Birding.about.com: http://birding.about.com/od/birdbehavior/a/Why-Birds-Migrate.htm

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