migration

Not Exactly Rocket Science

Tag archives for migration

I’ve just flown from London to North Carolina, a trip of around 6,200km. As flights go, it’s a pathetic one, a mere jaunt in the park compared to the epic voyage of the Arctic tern. Every year, this greatest of animal travellers makes a 70,000 km round-trip, in a relentless, globe-trotting pursuit of daylight. In…

In the forests of Germany live large numbers of blackcaps, a small species of songbird. They all look very similar, but they actually belong to two genetically distinct groups that are becoming more disparate with time. For the moment, the best way to tell them apart is to wait for winter. As the cold sets…

In the summer of 2007, thirty-four travellers left home with backpacks in tow to see the world. But these weren’t human students, out to get drunk and pretentious find themselves in foreign lands – they were small songbirds, migrating to tropical climates for the winter. Their backpacks were light-measuring devices called “geolocators”, each about the…

The area collectively known as Austronesia covers half the globe. It stretches from South-East Asia and Taiwan, across New Guinea and New Zealand, to the hundreds of small islands dotted around the Pacific. Today, it is home to about 400 million people. They are the descendants of early humans who spread throughout the Pacific in…