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Five questions about bird migration – Quick Quiz answers

We asked you five questions about bird migration. Here come the answers!

  1. Which species holds the long distance record for bird migration?
    The Arctic tern, which flies between the Arctic and the Antarctic to spend the summer months in each. Recent studies have shown that some populations fly as far as 90,000 km (56,000 miles) a year, far further than any other migrant species.
  2. Migration’s still not fully understood. But how did Aristotle (384-322 BCE) explain the disappearance of some bird species in winter?
    1. He knew they migrated
    2. He thought they transmogrified (changed into different species)
    3. He thought they hibernated
    4. All of the above

    Aristotle observed the migration of cranes from Scythia (Ukraine, Kazakhstan and southern European Russia) to the Nile Delta. But he believed that swallows, storks and kites hibernated in trees. And he even thought that redstarts changed into robins for the winter!

  3. Approximately what percentage of bird species are long-distance (transcontinental) migrants?
    About 18%. There are approximately 10,000 different species of bird. Roughly 1,800 of them are long-distance migrants. But there are variations – not all individual populations within a species may migrate, for instance if they’re living in an area where there’s suitable food all year round. And sometimes the sexes may migrate at different times.
  4. What is the name given to the flight path of migratory birds?
    The flyway. The term originated in North America but is gaining acceptance around the world as a useful concept in bird conservation. Flyways can and do vary between species, but they can broadly be grouped into three regions: Americas, Africa-Eurasia and East Asia-Australasia.
  5. In terms of migration, what do dusky grouse and emus have in common?
    They walk. Emus famously don’t fly but have been observed moving long distances during droughts. Dusky grouse can fly but perform short altitudinal migrations (move to higher or lower ground). Oddly, they move up mountainsides for the winter.

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