Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Birds!

Here is a nice article in the Vancouver Sun by Larry Pynn about bird migrations. I've watched flocks move north and south in the Vancouver area and loved the majesty of large numbers of birds on the wing.

It is one of the world's greatest natural wonders, taking place this very moment in our backyards and parks, in the skies over our communities, and all across our forests and Pacific shores -- yet passing virtually undetected by the public.

"A tsunami of birds all around us," confirms Rob Butler, a former senior scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Delta who now works with Bird Studies Canada. "It's astounding that people don't see them."


Ruby-throated hummingbirds cross the Gulf of Mexico in about 20 hours, flying all night to accomplish the remarkable 800-kilometre journey.

The blackpolled warbler has been known to travel non-stop for up to 3,500 kilometres over 3 1/2 days.

Ruddy turnstones, a species of shorebird, can fly 7,600 kilometres non-stop from Australia to Taiwan in just over six days -- averaging 50 to 55 kilometres per hour -- before continuing on to northern Siberia. One bird tracked on its round trip via the central Pacific logged 27,000 kilometres.

But the sooty shearwater -- a pelagic seabird that breeds in New Zealand and eats fish, squid, and other marine life -- holds the record for the longest round-trip migration on earth: 65,000 kilometres etched in a giant figure eight across the Pacific.

"They're like Tour de France athletes," Butler says of these long-distance migrants.
Go read the whole article!

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