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The Big Dipper

Posted on Jul 15, 2016

Can you spot the Big Dipper just above the horizon between the trees? It can be hard to believe in the midsummer heat but birds are already migrating south for the winter both during the day (various swallows to Eastern Kingbirds to Blue-gray Gnatcatchers) and the night (Red-eyed Vireos to Indigo Buntings to Black-billed Cuckoos). Those nocturnal species use various methods to help them move around our planet – some may use a coastline, others the Earth’s magnetic field, and like people, certain birds gaze at the stars. Various species take in the night sky as a map, just as we humans did and do on sailing ships or out camping, utilizing patterns like this one as guiding beacons. A bird’s brain and senses are all adapted to navigation far more than people, but it is incredible that we ended up moving around the world based on the same idea. Life!

Night sky-7090

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator