Did you know that almost 40% of the species of birds in the world practice migration on a regular basis? As amazing as this statistic is, what is even more interesting is the different tools that birds use to navigate during these migrations!
A migratory bird does not have a map it can use to find its way nor can it stop and ask for directions. Then how is it that at least 4,000 birds on Earth successfully migrate each year?
How do birds navigate?
There are several tools a bird can use to navigate itself to ensure it gets home safely. Birds are able to use the sun in order to have a sense of the time of the day and even nocturnal birds use the setting sun to guide themselves. Since nocturnal birds do not have the option of the sun as a reference through the night, they instead use the stars to guide themselves.
How do birds use the magnetic field of the earth?
Certain birds also have a trace amount of the mineral ‘magnetite’ in their beaks. Magnetite works like a bird’s compass, aligning itself with Earth’s magnetic field to help them gauge the direction of Earth’s magnetic poles.
Why don’t migrating birds get lost?
Birds also use familiar landmarks to help navigate themselves – such as mountain peaks, valleys, rivers and roads. Scientists have continued their research into the field of migration and migratory patterns in birds to try and also look at the role of a bird’s sense of smell in their navigation systems.