"It was always assumed that V-formation flight was learned from the adult birds. But these guys are all the same age and they learned to fly from a human in a microlight. They learned V-formation flying from each other
. National Geographic reports on some of the fascinating intricacies of the V formation observed in migrating birds.
From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area
, had recorded the flowering dates
of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack
, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing
spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns
from the recorded past to present. Their phenological
study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time
(full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
are irrupting across the upper Midwest and down the East Coast as far as the Carolinas in what could be the largest such irruption in at least 20 years
. They're here because there were a lot of lemmings in the Arctic last year, and so snowy owls made a lot of snowy owls. This year? Not so many lemmings, and so many of them have come south in search of food. [more inside]
has helped endangered bird species migrate by leading the way with ultralight aircraft. At the moment you can see a live video of them in flight
Prior to their southward migration, the godwits eat up large, until up to 55 per cent of their body weight is fat. They then reduce the size of their gut, kidney and liver by up to 25 per cent to compensate for the added weight.
Godwits are amazing migratory shorebirds
who travel many thousands of miles at a go. Here's a brief documentary of people studying them (12 minutes on youtube + ad, shows invasive surgery)
. Here's some science on their flights
(creative commons). [more inside]
An estimated 10,000
migratory birds whose flight path took them through Manhattan earlier this month became (temporarily) disoriented
in the 88-searchlight glare of the 9/11 Tribute in Light
Interactions between migrating birds and offshore oil and gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico
(PDF, 5.9MB). A scientific but engrossing look at bird migration over the Gulf of Mexico, describing, in part, death by starvation of migrants who have metabolized all their bodily fat, “overshoots” that inadvertently travel past their intended destinations and find themselves unexpectedly over water at first light, and a suggestion that peregrine falcons not only recovered from near extinction due to the presence of oil platforms in the Gulf, but that they may eventually establish a breeding population on the Gulf platform archipelago. Summary
. Full report
(PDF, 5.9 MB).
Since 1996, The Osprey Project
has been re-introducing
the osprey into the United Kingdom, and since 1999 has been tracking
its migrations, which stretch as far south as Senegal
, and can include marathon
stretches of open-ocean flight.
Oh, and sometimes they even make it Back
Why Birds Fly in a 'V'.
And I thought it was because they liked the view.