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10 amazing facts about migratory birds 9/17/2015 •

10 amazing facts about migratory birds

Every autumn migratory birds cover distances that may be compared to the distance from the Earth to the Moon. There is a hypothesis that during their journey birds use the geomagnetic field for navigation: they have a kind of compass in their eyes or beaks.


55⁰ - this is an angle of a V-shaped flock of big birds such as geese or cranes. Usually, a flock flies almost 71% faster than a single bird. It is much easier to fly in a flock because birds' hearts beat slower and they often hover: every bird flies in the airflow that is created by the preceding bird's wings. The leader of the flock is in the most unfavorable position. When it gets tired it goes to the end of the flock while some other bird occupies the leading position.

26 hours is the time a hummingbird can fly without any stoppage. This tiny bird has to wing about 6 million times to cover the distance from Hawaii to Alaska. To get the same amount of energy a hummingbird spends per day, a human being needs to consume 1300 hamburgers.

Storks can have 10 minutes' sleep in the air. A tired stork relocates to the center of the flock and has a short nap hovering in the airflow. During such sleep the bird's sense of hearing intensifies which helps it to orient itself and maintain altitude.

44,120 mi (71,000 km) is the distance covered annually by Arctic terns. The average lifespan of the Arctic tern is about 20 years. Some individuals can even live up to the age of 30 or 34.

20 × 44,120 mi = 882,400 mi is the distance that is covered by an Arctic tern during its whole life. Amazingly enough, this huge distance is equal to two journeys to the Moon and back!

0.9 mi (1,500 m) is the average altitude reached by the majority of migratory birds. But some species are real champions: for example, geese normally fly over the Himalayas as high as 5 mi (8,000 m) above the sea level. As a comparison, airliners usually fly at the altitude of 6.2 – 6.8 mi (10 – 11 km).

11.4 ft (3.5 m) is the wingspan of the wandering albatross. The bird got such a name because it spends most part of its life hovering in the air.

1000 beats/min - such frequency of heartbeat is typical of many birds when they are flying. While resting birds usually have a frequency of 400 beats per minute.

Semipalmated sandpipers have 58 - 90% increase in oxygen metabolism of their muscles before the migration across the Atlantic Ocean. This happens due to a special two-week diet when they feed on small sandhoppers rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Professional sportsmen can improve their oxygen metabolism only by 38 – 70% after 7 weeks of continuous trainings.

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