Life Lines

Great Air Migrations

Here are highlights of my favorite animals that migrate by air:

Bugs:

Monarch Butterflies: How in the world does this little insect travel so far?? These butterflies migrate very long distances to wintering grounds on the west coast of the United States or in Mexico. You must watch this video clip of these amazing insects.
migration 11.jpg

Bats:

A recent study conducted by Dr. Bisson et al., showed that migratory behavior arose independently in several species of bats to meet the need of finding food and water. This recent behavior of bats is more prominent among animals that roost in trees compared to those living in caves. Therefore, climate change may have a significant impact on migratory bats. The image below is of migrating Straw-coloured Fruit Bats that was taken in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park (from: www.AudleyTravel.com)
bat migration.jpeg

Award-winning Birds:

The extreme altitude award goes to the bar-headed goose which is able to fly well above the mountain tops of Mt. Everest where they brave the chilly thin air. You can see how they train for these flights in this entertaining clip from BBC Worldwide.

The world’s longest migration” award goes to….*drum roll*….the arctic tern, which travel approximately 44,000 miles each year during its annual migration. migration 13.jpgmigration 12.jpg

Images from National Geographic.


Lastly: the winner of the longest nonstop flight goes to the Alaskan bar-tailed godwits which travel up to 8 straight days over 11,000 km in their trek from Alaska to New Zealand. A recent review article published by Dr. Anders Hedenstrom from the Department of Biology at Lund University discusses potential specialized adaptations in these birds to allow for this amazing flight. What sets them apart? They are fuel efficient (more so than any man-made flying device), are fast flyers, reduce weight in flight by digesting their digestive tract, and have streamlined bodies and good wing shapes. However, these traits are not unique among shorebirds. Dr. Hedenstrom proposes that maybe these birds are just better at navigating than other species, but this has not yet been studied. i-d76805b4be9d1028c6b648de2416b5a2-godwit-thumb-350x192-62327.jpg
Photo taken by: Brian Chudleigh

Not-so-award winning, but still pretty neat birds:
Some bald eagles even migrate, what a site that must be! Researchers at The University of Wisconsin have been studying their migratory routes and habits. Click here to learn more about their research. migration 14.jpg

Sandhill Cranes: Agriculture has been kind to these birds as it provides food and water to encourage their migration. This video highlights how the numbers of sandhill cranes migrating through Arizona have been increasing due to agriculture. For these birds, migration appears to actually be a learned trait as opposed to innate behavior. If you stay tuned, you can also watch the migration of tundra swans over 4,000 miles to the arctic for the summer, which is pretty amazing.

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Evans, B.Sc., M.Sc.
    March 11, 2011

    Dear LIFE LINES:

    I am humbled at the many very remarkable accomplishments made by species on Mother Earth when there are still some “EGO DRIVEN BELIEVERS” who will, without a cringe of guilt or humility, say that our species, is the height of whatever. It was because of these kind of people that Charles Darwin was afraid of and waited twenty years to publish his landmark book on Evolution.
    My 5 year old granddaughter is very intelligent, curious, not afraid to ask questions and her favourite animal is an Elephant. I purchased her a toy elephant from WWF last year and my donation will help them which is a point I want to make with her.
    However, at 5 or 20 or 50 or 100 she would not be able to carry out these marvels, each year,and we are so VULGAR as to consider them ‘lesser species”. Should there be a God, Supreme Being,or whatever then may she/he/it have mercy on there souls. Lack of knowledge can be easily corrected but Arrogance is much harder to remove. Some times it permeates the whole body and reason, knowledge or intelligence will do no good.

  2. #2 SesliALeyram
    April 23, 2011

    Benim 5 yaşındaki torunu çok meraklı, korkmayın soru ve onun en sevdiği hayvan bir fil olduğunu sormak için akıllı değildir. Ben geçen yıl WWF onu bir oyuncak fil satın aldığım bağış onunla yapmak istediğiniz bir nokta olan onlara yardımcı olacaktır.
    Ancak, 5 veya 20 veya 50 veya 100 o, bu şaşılacak şey, her yıl yapılması mümkün olmaz ve biz onlara ‘daha az tür “düşünmek çok kaba gibidir. Should orada Tanrı, Yüce, olmak ya da her neyse o zaman bir o olabilir / o / bilgi eksikliği kolayca düzeltilebilir. fakat Kibir kadar kaldırın. onu tüm vücut ve akıl, bilgi ve istihbarat nüfuz Bazen hiç iyi yapacak sert olduğu ruhları orada rahmet.