Jan 29

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Backtracking Birds

Why shorelines are stopover sites:

Image from the KGRR radar on 5/16/10 at sunrise showing the relative density of migrating birds aloft. Bird density over land is low as birds have largely ended their migratory flight before dawn. But birds over water are still aloft and flying towards the nearest shoreline. (via Buler)


Each spring and fall, tens of millions of birds migrate through the Great Lakes region.

Jeffrey Buler of the University of Delaware says many species prefer to travel at night. In a recent study, he found that if birds were still out over the Great Lakes at sunrise, they would fly higher…

Buler: “…to get perspective and to see how much further they had to go to get across this water body… to decide whether they were going to continue flying or turn back to the nearest shoreline.”

In spring, many birds turned back and piled up along southern shorelines. Buler expects the situation is reversed in fall. He hopes the study helps guide habitat conservation efforts.

Hear More:

Listen to Jeffrey Buler describe how his lab monitors birds at night:

Get Schooled:

 The Fine Print:



Permanent link to this article: http://www.currentcast.org/creature-features/backtracking-birds/