9 Awesome facts about bird migration

The Bar-headed geese migrate over the Himalayas at heights of over five miles above sea level. Photo Credit: Diliff/CC BY-SA 3.0

Here is a brief excerpt from an article by Jhaneel Lockhart for the Audubon Society. To read the complete article, check out others, and learn how to support the great work of the Society, please click here.

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Forget the changing leaves and pumpkin-spiced everything. For bird enthusiasts, fall’s big event is spying birds as they pass through on migration. In North America, most bird species migrate to some extent, with more than 350 species traveling to the tropics each fall.

October is the perfect time to spot winged travelers, so we thought we’d give you a few interesting facts to get you started:

[Here are the first three.]

1. At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world. (Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)

2. Birds can reach great heights as they migrate. Bar-headed geese are the highest-flying migratory birds, regularly reaching altitudes of up to five and a half miles above sea level while flying over the Himalayas in India. But the bird with the record for the highest altitude ever is the Ruppel’s griffon vulture, which collided with a plane at 37,000 feet (that’s seven miles!) in 1975 and was unfortunately sucked into its jet engine.

3. The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any bird in the world. These black-capped, red-billed birds can fly more than 49,700 miles in a year, making a round trip between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and the Antarctic, where they spend their winters. The lucky bird gets to see two summers a year! And over its lifespan of more than 30 years, the flights can add up to the equivalent of three trips to the moon and back.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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