Even though there is a lot known about birds, we are still learning more about them all the time. Here are two new findings related to their navigational abilities:  

First, we start with research that shows how birds that have lost their way during a storm are able to navigate back to their migratory route.  The international team from Bangor and Keele Universities worked with Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) to test their ability to correctly find their destination after being held in captivity for a short period. The birds were then exposed to a simulation of the earth’s magnetic signature of a location thousands of miles away from their true migratory path.

In response, the birds oriented themselves to fly in the proper direction to re-establish themselves within the migratory corridor.  This occurred, even though they were still physically located at their capture site and could experience all of the other sensory clues about their location.  Yet, they still aligned by the magnetic signals they were experiencing.

Read more about this research published on February 21, 2021, in Current Biology.  The link to get you there is:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982221001160?dgcid=coauthor

In other ornithological research news:  

The Great Backyard Bird Count just wrapped up for this year.  (I hope you participated!)   Did you ever wonder what the data collection was used for?  Here is just one example:

Weather radar has long been a tool for tracking large groups of birds in migration.   The tool has limitations, however.   Now, scientists are combining weather radar with data collected by citizen scientists and birdwatchers, including those data recorded in eBird. It is estimated that the various databases hold hundreds of millions of entries of species‐specific information.  The combination has resulted in unprecedented insights into regional and continental movements of birds.

As reported in the November 20, 2020 issue of IBIS, the International Journal of Avian Science, this data may be used to identify possible bird collision hazards (including impact on aviation), or it may reveal more accurate predictions of likely roosting sites, as examples.  The combined tools may also be useful for monitoring biodiversity status.   Future applications include assessments of bird density aloft and tracking their flight altitudes.  Additionally, the tools could be helpful in developing models of climate change.

For more information, check out the link here:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ibi.12906

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