Can you imagine how challenging it will be to navigate routes of unknown places without the help of any technological advancements, such as the smartphone’s GPS or anything else related to trail navigation? But, birds can perform this job every year comfortably, migrating thousands of kilometers during summer and winter.
So, how do birds know when and where to migrate? Birds depend on various senses, including magnetic sensing, geographic mapping, star orientation, and more, to migrate to correct destinations at the right time. However, scientists think that there is a lot to know about the techniques working behind birds’ migration.
Now, we’re going to cover everything in detail regarding how birds why birds migrate, different types of migrations, and what difficulties they face during migration. Once you finish reading this, here is another article for you: why some birds migrate but others don’t.
How Do Birds Know When To Migrate?
Birds can guess the seasonal change based on the light level of daylight. They look at the sun’s angle in the sky to determine the right timing for migration.
Apart from that, birds consider several other factors, including available food supplies, weather conditions, air temperatures, wind patterns, physical illness, injury, and so on, before beginning to migrate.
Most bird species follow specific migration calendars and these calendars vary for different bird species. That’s why birds are always seen on the move during fall and spring.
How Do Birds Detect Flyways?
Scientists and bird observers have always found it mysterious whenever they try to find out how robins, geese, or other familiar avian species migrate to different places. After conducting several types of research on various bird species, they learned that birds use a myriad of techniques for the correct navigation.
According to these studies, many birds contain special chemicals in their brains, eyes, and beaks, helping them to sense the world’s magnetic field. As a result, they can correctly orient themselves in the right route for long journeys.
Apart from that, they utilize a geographic mapping method, in which they map their journey with their keen eyesight’s help. Birds’ beaks, specifically the trigeminal nerve, help birds know their exact position during the flight. And different landforms, mountains, coastlines, etc., also guide them to head in the right direction.
This charming creature also looks for constellations and stars’ positions to navigate flyways while migrating at night. And during the daytime migration, they rely on the Sun to find out the right route. Considering this fact, you can say birds are smarter than us when it comes to navigating directions.
Alongside these methods, birds look for clues while migrating. They smell scents for different habitats, hear ambient sounds, and sometimes ask for help from other species with similar needs. Some birds learn migration tactics from their parents and elders in the flock. That’s all researchers know about birds’ migration to date.
Why Do Birds Migrate to Different Places?
Researchers haven’t yet found the entire mechanism behind birds’ migratory behavior. They know that birds opt for migration when they notice changes in day length, temperatures, food supplies, and experience genetic proneness.
Several pet owners also witnessed that their caged birds went through migratory restlessness during spring and fall. For your information, migratory restlessness is a type of locomotor activity, which birds perform before the onset of migration.
Migration is essential for migratory birds for their existence. They embark on this annual journey to find the richest food sources to stay alive and healthy and raise their offspring. But not all birds migrate to different destinations as they can adapt to climate change and stay in one place all year round.
How Many Types of Migrations Are There?
There are mainly three types of migrations out there in birds:
- Short Distance Migration
- Medium Distance Migration
- Long Distance Migration
Speaking of the short-distance migrants, they move towards the mountainside from higher to lower elevations. On the contrary, medium-distance migrants tend to fly up to a hundred miles in search of a better habitat. And long-distance migrants accomplish arduous journeys by traveling over a thousand miles.
These migrants fly to temperate regions during spring, and they migrate to warmer latitudes for food and shelter in autumn. Birds living in the northern hemisphere usually fly south, and birds of the southern hemisphere travel towards the north.
What Types of Difficulties Do Birds Face During Migration?
While migrating, birds face several challenges filled with peril and threats. Migration tests both their mental and physical ability. They need to deal with physical stress caused by the lack of food and energy.
Besides, there are many obstacles en route, such as power lines, wind farms, poor weather, storms, light pollution, predators, hunters, and many more. That’s why on average, 60-percent of the entire migratory bird species can’t complete a full migration trip.
And the rest, 40-percent of birds, are well equipped to tackle those aforementioned dangers. Now you may wonder how they prepare themselves to overcome those situations. Well, here is the answer.
How Do Migratory Birds Deal with Dangers During the Flight?
During the migrating season, birds’ bodies make several changes. For instance, their hormone levels will change, so birds start to build a great fat supply to get additional energy while traveling long distances.
Hummingbirds are such kinds of birds known for doubling their body fats in a week or two before migration. Besides, some migratory birds start to molt to a new plumage. As a result, they can drag and swoop comfortably. Also, birds change their flight style to make the journey safer.
They fly at a high altitude, and cold wind lets them stay cool alongside helping them fly with ease. Last but not least, some diurnal birds change their behavior to fly at night to avoid predator attacks. So that’s how birds cope up with everything during migration.
That’s all about birds’ migration. We hope now you have a clear insight regarding the question: how do birds know when and where to migrate. So, they are smart even though they fall for silly traps of varied hunters.
Speaking of the bird trap, being a bird observer, you shouldn’t opt for this shameful and neglected task of trapping migratory birds. Instead, if you find any bird suffering from difficulties, you should help those lovely creatures.
Anyway, thanks for reading! We hope you have learned a lot about how birds know when and where to migrate. Comment your experiences with migrating birds down below. Keep in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.