At the end of summer many birds in different parts of the world leave their native places and fly to the south for winter. Sometimes they go to other continents, located thousands of miles away. In spring, these birds return not only to the same country, but often even to the same nest in the same house! How do they find their way?
A lot of interesting experiments have been done to find the answer. During one of them a group of storks was taken from their nests shortly before the time of the autumn flight and moved to another place. From this new place they had to fly in the other direction to reach the place of their winter retreat. But when the time came, they flew in the same direction in which they flew from their old place! It seems that they have an innate instinct that tells them to fly in a certain direction when winter is approaching.
The ability of birds to find their way home is no less striking. Birds were taken away from their native places on the plane for 400 miles. When they were released, they flew back to themselves!
If you just say that their instincts lead them, then this does not explain the secret. How do they find their way? We know that young birds do not receive geography lessons from their parents, because parents often fly for the first time. And birds that fly home often fly at night, so they can not see the landmarks that would help them. Some birds fly over the water, where there are no landmarks at all.
One of the hypotheses is that birds can feel the magnetic fields that surround the Earth. The magnetic lines are located in the direction from the north magnetic pole to the south pole. Perhaps these are the lines that guide the birds. But this theory has not been proved.
Science does not actually have an exhaustive explanation of how birds find their way during flights or how they search for their native places! There is one curious historical fact connected with the flights of birds. When Columbus approached the American continent, he saw large flocks of birds heading southwest. This meant that the land was somewhere nearby, and he changed course and headed south-west where the birds flew. And so he landed in the Bahamas, instead of being on the coast of Florida!
On what distances do birds fly? Everyone knows that the birds fly over. People use the flight and return of some birds in order to predict the coming of the next season. But no one fully understands why birds make such distant journeys.
We can not explain this by merely changing the temperature. Feathers can very well protect the bird from the cold. Of course, with the onset of cold weather there is a lack of food for birds, and this may be an explanation of their flights to places where there is enough food. But then why in the spring they again fly to the north? Some experts believe that there is a relationship between climate change and the instinct of procreation.
For whatever reasons, flights are made, birds are without a doubt champions among all living beings who make migrations. And champions among birds are Arctic terns. During the flight within one year, these amazing birds fly a distance of 22,000 miles!
Krachki nest in vast expanses from the Arctic Circle to Massachusetts. These birds reach Antarctica in about 20 weeks, flying an average of about 1000 miles per week.
Most birds make fairly short distances during flights. But one bird, the American golden plover , makes a long non-stop flight over the open ocean. It can fly straight from Nova Scotia (Canada) to South America 2,400 miles above the water without a single stop!
Do birds fly on the same day every day? About this a lot is written, and many people believe that this is so. But there are no birds that would fly out every year on the same day, although some are very close to that. Famous swallows from Capistrano in California, it is commonly believed, fly away on October 23, and return on March 19. Despite the fact that this is considered an acknowledged fact, the date of their departure and return, as it turned out, changes from year to year.