‘Birds of Passage’: A Documentary

Look up.
Any moment now
they will trickle in,
arrows of feathers,
powerful and weightless
winging their way
through castles of clouds.
This is their kingdom
where everything
touches everything;
they know it
by the palm of their wings.

Birds in long distance migration are a sight to behold. Geese winging their way across the sky in V-shaped flocks is perhaps the classic picture of migration, though they are far from the only migratory birds that every year, make epic journeys spanning thousands of kilometers.

Birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. Food and roosting are the two primary aim of migration. Birds that nest in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate northward in the spring to take advantage of burgeoning insect populations, budding plants and an abundance of nesting locations. As winter approaches and the availability of insects and other food drops, the birds move south again. 

Nature has endowed these feathered creatures with powerful means to navigate vast distances. Even “first timers” are able to make their very first migration on their own. Somehow, they can find their winter home despite never having seen it before and return the following spring to where they were born. The secrets of their amazing navigational skills aren’t fully understood. But what we do know is that they rely on multiple senses endowed by nature; they can get compass information from the sun, the stars and the earth’s magnetic fields; they have vision that is many times sharper than human vision; they can remember landmarks seen during the day from high above the sky, and there’s even evidence that sense of smell play a role in their navigational journeys.

Here’s a unique documentary video that filmed eight geese in migration, taken from the vantage point of their breeder who joins his flock up in the air on a micro-plane. Unmissable!

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