Posted by: Dan | February 24, 2009

Tracking Songbird Migration Routes

Here’s a very appropriate entry for Migrations – an article published last week and blogged about by Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science:

Light-detecting backpacks record the complete migration routes of songbirds

Their backpacks were light-measuring devices called “geolocators”, each about the size of a small coin. By measuring rising and falling light levels, these miniature contraptions revealed the timings of sunrise and sunset wherever the birds happened to be flying. Those, in turn, revealed where they were in the world, and allowed Bridget Stutchbury from York University, Toronto to achieve a world-first – track the entire voyage of a migrating songbird, from the start of the outbound trip to the end of the return journey.

The recordings show that tiny wood thrushes and purple martins are far more capable fliers than anyone had thought. They can cover 500 kilometres in a day, flying more than three times as fast as previously expected.


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