Why Do Birds Migrate Like This?

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Copyright 2016 by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti. First American Edition published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. in 2017. First published in Great Britain in 2016 by Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin Books.

Migrating birds care more about the ease of their trip than the distance they travel, and that leads to some truly roundabout routes.

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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Migration: The seasonal movement of a population of animals from one area to another.
Prevailing winds: Winds in a particular area that blow in a particular direction.
Thermal: An upward current of warm air.
Lift: A force that counteracts the weight of an object and holds it in the air.
Flyway: A route regularly used by lots of migrating birds.

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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Arcadi García
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Emily Elert (@eelert)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Kate Yoshida, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:



Horton, K., Van Doren, B., Stepanian, P.,Hochachka, W., Farnsworth, A., and Kelly, J. (2016). Nocturnally migrating songbirds drift when they can and compensate when they must. Scientific Reports 6, 1-8. Nature. Retrieved from:

Kranstauber,B., Weinzierl, R., Wikelski, M., Safi, K. (2015). Global aerial flyways allow efficient travelling. Ecology Letters. 18: 133. Retrieved from:

Liechti, F. (2006). Birds: blowin’ by the wind.Journal of Ornithology. 47: 202–211. Retrieved from:

Reddy, G., Celani, A., Sejnowski, T., and Vergassola, M. (2016). Learning to soar in turbulent environments. PNAS. 113(33):E4877-84. Retrieved from:

Shamoun-Baranes, J., Leshem, Y., Yom-Tov, Y., and Liech, O. (2003). Differential use of thermal convection by soaring birds over central Israel. The Condor. 105:208-218. Retrieved from:

Leshem, Yossi. (2017) Professor of Life Science, Tel-Aviv University. Personal Communication.

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