Why do birds fly south?

Many animals do not spend the winter in their habitat, but move to warmer regions. The best known migrants are birds. In some areas, winter is an extremely unfavorable time for many creatures. Cold is then a big problem for many animals, but still not the main reason for migration of some species. Many species migrate mainly due to lack of food, while they would somehow survive the cold. Certain bird species migrate for mating and reproduction.

Whether it is a migratory bird or not cannot be estimated from the body size of the individual, large storks and small ones like hummingbirds also migrate. More than 60% of all birds living in our region are migratory.

Birds travel individually (cuckoo, magpie and others) or in small groups (geese, ducks, cranes, shrews, finches) depending on the species.

How do birds determine when they leave?

Scientists are still not entirely sure how migratory birds determine the timing of departure and return. It is thought that the length of the day is critical to the moment of departure. As soon as the days get shorter, it is a signal to them to prepare for the journey.

How do birds know where to fly?

They marvel at their ability to unmistakably find destinations that many people have never visited before, as well as their perseverance in migrating great distances often without resting. Birds are believed to have something like internal “clocks” and “compasses” that guide them and point them in the right direction. There is also a theory that they align their movement with the sun, the moon, and the earth’s magnetic field.

In some species, the adults go first and then in a few days the young. But young birds also successfully find common destinations, even though this is actually their first migration.

Where do migratory birds go?

Each bird species has its fixed “wintering place”. European species migrate mainly to Africa and the Middle East, and some species from the northernmost parts of Europe descend only to the southern and warmer parts of the continent.

Things to know about migratory birds

Most migratory birds travel mainly at night, so people are less likely to notice them.

Arctic terns spend the longest time migrating. These birds fly about 35,000 km, which is about the distance from one sex to the other. Arctic terns are the best and most resilient flying birds.

Cranes and swans move at the highest altitudes during migration, they can fly at altitudes above 8000 meters.

In 2007, a female snipe flew 11,500 km from Alaska to New Zealand without stopping or resting. The bird was one of several equipped with a transmitter. Thus, as far as is known, this bird holds a record for continuous flight length of migratory birds.

It is estimated that about 50 billion birds migrate each year, including about 5 billion between Europe and Africa.

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